A coordinated attack by terrorists on multiple Egyptian military checkpoints in north Sinai has left dozens dead with fighting still ongoing in some areas, according to multiple reports.
— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) July 1, 2015
— BBC Africa (@BBCAfrica) July 1, 2015
— Hani Shukrallah (@HaniShukrallah) July 1, 2015
Wilayat Sinai, the ISIS affiliate operating in Sinai and formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM) until their merger with ISIS in November 2014, has reportedly already taken credit for the attack:
ISIS-affiliate Sinai Province claims responsibility for North Sinai attacks that killed at least 30 Egyptian soldiers http://t.co/LltRDjNGp3
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) July 1, 2015
— Mada Masr مدى مصر (@MadaMasr) July 1, 2015
This attack comes just two days after the assassination of Egypt’s Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat, whose funeral was yesterday.
— Mada Masr مدى مصر (@MadaMasr) June 29, 2015
The attacks occurred near Sheikh Zuweid not far from the Rafah border crossing into Gaza.
— Deena (@deenahsn) July 1, 2015
— Sule Sulizo Momoh (@plaga4real) July 1, 2015
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) July 1, 2015
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) July 1, 2015
If casualty figures continue to climb, this would be one of the biggest terror attacks in Egypt’s modern history and definitely would mark an escalation in the conflict between terrorist groups and the Egyptian government in the two years since the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi.
— AlBawaba EG (@AlBawabaEG) July 1, 2015
— AJE News (@AJENews) July 1, 2015
Sinai journalist says militants on roofs and in streets, F-16s flying above. No one going outside. https://t.co/132GxYw7Yd
— Evan Hill (@evanchill) July 1, 2015
— Mohamed Yehia (@yeh1a) July 1, 2015
Witnesses say armed men were seen stealing military equipment from attack sites in Sheikh Zuwayed, N.Sinai
— Mada Masr مدى مصر (@MadaMasr) July 1, 2015
Ambulances can't reach the injured people as terrorists planted landmines allover the roads of North Sinai… https://t.co/0195gdPT7D
— Dr F. Francis (@Dr_F_Francis) July 1, 2015
Egypt is one of the top U.S. allies in the Middle East, though the Obama administration withheld military supplies from Egypt for nearly two years as the insurgency in the Sinai escalated, only relenting recently.
Egypt's Sisi to US: Give us more weapons to fight Islamist terror http://t.co/eS1StY7qRV
— The Jerusalem Post (@Jerusalem_Post) March 10, 2015
Just days after Western analysts were updating their obituaries for ISIS after the group’s setback in Tel Abyad, which is about 100km north of the ISIS capital of Raqaa, ISIS has lashed back with two offensives: a small-scale raid on Kobane on the Turkish/Syria border, and against Hasakah in Kurdish-controlled northeastern Syria.
And pictures distributed by multiple outlets show ISIS using U.S-.made TOW BGM-71 antitank missiles in their assault on Hasakah.
This situation map from Friday shows the current placement of regime, Kurdish and ISIS forces:
— Islamic World News (@Amin_Akh) June 27, 2015
UN estimates are that the current fighting has displaced 60,000 people:
— Reuters UK (@ReutersUK) June 26, 2015
Sadly, some of those fleeing Hasakah include Assyrian and Armenian refugees who took refuge in Hasakah earlier this year when ISIS made a push against Christian villages along the Khabur River.
Even more disturbing is that ISIS is using captured U.S.-made TOW missiles in their assault on Hasakah:
— الرقة تذبح بصمت (@Raqqa_Sl) June 26, 2015
Many of the TOW missiles that remain in Syria that were originally provided to so-called “vetted moderate” rebel groups over the past year have fallen into the hands of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria.
— Rami (@RamiAlLolah) April 26, 2015
— Rita Katz (@Rita_Katz) March 2, 2015
For more than six months I’ve been reporting here at PJ Media about the continued loss of these U.S.-provided weapons to forces hostile to the U.S.:
With the Iraqi army losing 2,300 US-provided Humvees to ISIS, and other reports indicating that ISIS has also obtained 40 M1A1 tanks, 74,000 machine guns, and 52 M198 Howitzer mobile gun systems, with increasing numbers of U.S. personnel flooding back into Iraq (now more than 3,500), it only seems to be a matter of time before the U.S. military will eventually be confronted with ISIS forces armed with U.S.-provided weapons.
When that happens, who will hold the Obama administration and GOP leadership accountable for the predictable blowback from their Syria and Iraq policies?
Yet Another ‘Known Wolf’: France’s Beheading Terrorist Was Well-Known By Authorities, But No Action Was Taken
Yassin Salhi, the suspect in a beheading at a factory owned by an American company near Lyon, France, had been known to authorities for his connections to the Salafist networks in the area since 2006.
Reports indicate that authorities were well-aware of his increased radicalization over the past two years.
— The Independent (@Independent) June 26, 2015
The victim appears to be Salhi’s former employer:
#BREAKING French decapitation victim was suspect's boss: source close to probe
— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) June 26, 2015
- A person rammed a car into the premises of a factory owned by U.S. company Air Products in the town of Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, triggering an explosion.
- Police have said a decapitated head was found at the site, along with a flag bearing Arabic writing, although there was uncertainty about how the man was decapitated and where. The head was also covered in Arabic writing, according to authorities and media reports.
- The attacker got out of the car to go into the factory and attempt to cause more explosions.
- Firefighters arrived to hear him shouting “Allahu Akbar!” (Allah is great)
- They managed to surround him and keep him there until police arrived to arrest him.
French President François Hollande said that this was a terrorist attack:
The plant is owned by an American company, Air Products:
French factory attacked – Air Products – American owned. Based in Pennsylvania.
— Jon Williams (@WilliamsJon) June 26, 2015
Here is a map locating the village near Lyon where the attack took place:
— Visactu (@visactu) June 26, 2015
Salhi’s contacts with French authorities go back to 2006:
Cazeneuve: Suspect had no criminal record. Put on watch list in 2006 for suspected radicalization – not renewed in 2008. #Isère
— Jon Williams (@WilliamsJon) June 26, 2015
BRTL-France notes that French security service DGSE had two notes from May 2014 noting Salhi’s increased radicalization and a “brutal” change in his appearance, along with two of his friends. They reportedly wanted to create an Islamic institute in Besançon:
— RTL France (@RTLFrance) June 26, 2015
As regular readers of PJ Media will recall, since last year I’ve been reporting on what I’ve termed the “known wolf” terrorism problem: when terror suspects are already known to law enforcement authorities prior to committing an attack.
Here’s a recap of my “known wolf” terror reporting:
Dec. 15, 2014: Sydney Hostage Taker Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome
This was also the subject of a Capitol Hill briefing I gave back in late January sponsored by the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET):
I discussed “known wolves” in this interview with my colleague Erick Stakelbeck at CBN News. You can watch that video on the next page.
Last month I reported here exclusively at PJ Media on the rapidly escalating number of Islamic terror-related arrests this year, noting that we were on pace to surpass the number of arrests for 2013 and 2014 combined (48) before the halfway point of the current year next week.
In fact, that is exactly what has happened. At present 53 suspects have been arrested or involved in Islamic terror-related incidents with law enforcement since the beginning of the year.
This is top among reasons why Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said just a few days ago that this is “the highest threat level we have ever faced in this country.”
Here are the additional cases since I reported last month, beginning with the most recent:
June 22: Justin Nojan Sullivan, 19, of Morganton, North Carolina, was charged with attempting to materially support ISIS and two related weapons possession charges. According to local press reports, the teen intended to attack a bar or concert, and then kill as many as 1,000 victims. DOJ press release. Complaint.
June 19: Amir Said Abdul Rahman Al-Ghazi aka Robert C. McCollum, 38, of North Olmstead, Ohio, was arrested for attempting to provide material support to ISIS, illegal possession of a firearm by a felon, and trafficking marijuana. Media reports indicate that Al-Ghazi had been known to the FBI since December 2012 due to his social media activity, and that in June 2014 he pledged allegiance to ISIS in a Facebook posting. FBI press release. Complaint.
June 17: Fareed Mumuni, 21, of Staten Island, New York, an associate of Topaz, was arrested for attempting to repeatedly stab an FBI agent investigating his role in a possible domestic terror plot. In court documents, prosecutors said that “Mumuni espouses violent jihadist beliefs and is a fervent supporter of (ISIS).” Complaint.
June 13: Munther Omar Saleh, 20, of Queens, New York, an associate of both Topaz and Mumuni, was arrested for plotting to set off a pressure cooker bomb at a New York City landmark in support of ISIS. He was arrested when he and another man lunged at a law enforcement surveillance vehicle that had been following his movements. According to the complaint, Saleh was active on social media, saying in September 2014 that Al-Qaeda was becoming too moderate, and expressing his praise for the Charlie Hebdo attack in January and the attempted attack in Garland, Texas, last month. Complaint.
June 11: Akmal Zakirov, 29, an Uzbek national, was charged as the fifth member of a Brooklyn-based cell to materially support ISIS. Specifically, Zakirov had assisted in helping others plan to travel to Syria to join ISIS. DOJ press release. Indictment.
June 11: Nicholas Rovinski aka Nuh Amriki, 24, of Warwick, Rhode Island, was arrested for conspiracy to obstruct an investigation and conspiracy to materially support ISIS related to his role in an ISIS-inspired domestic terror plot with two Boston-based associates. FBI press release. Complaint.
June 10: Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem aka Decarus Thomas, of Phoenix, Arizona, was indicted by a federal grand jury for his role in the attempted Garland, Texas, terror attack by his associates, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, in early May. According to the indictment, Kareem had taken the pair shooting, supplied weapons to Simpson and Soofi, and hosted a gathering in his home to discuss the Garland “Draw Muhammad” event. He is accused of later lying to FBI agents after Simpson and Soofi were killed during the attempted attack. In a subsequent hearing in the case, the FBI said that Kareem had discussed attacking the Super Bowl. Indictment.
June 10: Reza Niknejad, 18, of Prince William County, Virginia, was charged with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, conspiring to provide material support to ISIS and conspiring to kill and injure people abroad. He was charged in abstentia since he traveled to Syria in January to join ISIS. The charges were announced in conjunction with the plea agreement reached with one of his conspirators, 17-year-old Ali Shukri Amin. DOJ press release.
June 2: Usaamah Abdullah Rahim, 26, of Roslindale, Massachusetts, was killed in a confrontation with FBI agents and a Boston police officer after lunging at them with a large, military-style knife. The FBI wanted to speak to Rahim about his intended plan to kill police officers. One of Rahim’s conspirators, David Wright aka Dawud Sharif Abdul Khaliq, 25, of Everett, Massachusetts, was arrested later that same day and charged with obstructing justice in the investigation. Wright and Nicholas Rovinski were later charged with conspiracy to materially support ISIS. FBI press release. Initial Wright complaint.
May 27: Leon Nathan Davis, 37, of Augusta, Georgia, was charged with trying to aid ISIS. The charges appear related to his October 2014 arrest at Atlanta Hartsfield Airport and weapons charges filed in February. FBI press release.
May 26: Asher Abed Khan, 20, of Spring, Texas, was charged with conspiracy to materially support ISIS. As I reported here at PJ Media, Khan planned to travel to Syria through Turkey to join ISIS, but was lured back home by his family who lied and told him that his mother was dying. Khan apparently made it onto the FBI’s radar when his social media messages turned up in another investigation. According to the criminal complaint, one of Khan’s friends was successful in leaving the country and joining ISIS in Syria. FBI press release. Complaint.
It should be noted that every single case I’ve reported on here involves support for ISIS. This is undoubtedly the result of a directive from FBI headquarters for its field offices to “shake every tree” following the attempted terror attack in Garland, Texas, in early May, much to the bureau’s credit.
Last week Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told CNN that small-scale ISIS attacks should be expected on July 4th, amidst an active hunt for ISIS supporters by the FBI ahead of the Independence Day celebrations. But with rising support for ISIS here and abroad, it remains to be seen whether these efforts will be sufficient.
Regardless, I’ll continue to provide updates on the Islamic terror-related arrests as 2015 looks to be an unprecedented year in domestic terrorism.
A two-part video published earlier today shows ISIS using U.S. TOW anti-tank missiles during the capture of the Syrian town of Palmyra last month.
Entitled “The Raid of Abu Malik Tamimi,” the videos also show ISIS using tanks, rocket launchers, howitzers and other heavy weaponry in their attack on the town.
The TOW makes its appearance ~2:28 in Part 2 of the video below (WARNING – GRAPHIC SCENES):
Presumably, most of these weapons have been obtained by ISIS in their victories against Syrian and Iraqi military and U.S.-backed so-called “vetted moderate” Syrian rebel groups.
Over the past year I’ve reported here at PJ Media about the defections and surrender of “vetted moderate” groups and leaders to ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria. In particular I have noted the capture and use of CIA-provided TOW missiles by Jabhat al-Nusra:
So now we have conclusive proof of both Al-Qaeda and ISIS using TOW missiles that had been provided to U.S.-backed “vetted moderate” groups. The CIA program to supply these “vetted moderate” groups with TOW systems began in April 2014, meaning that it took less than a year for these heavy weapons to end up in the hands of designated terror groups.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi admitted recently that the Iraqi army lost 2,300 Humvees that had been provided by the U.S. to ISIS in their seizure of Mosul a year ago. Other reports indicate that ISIS has also obtained 40 M1A1 tanks, 74,000 machine guns, and 52 M198 Howitzer mobile gun systems.
When U.S. weapons now in the hands of terrorist groups end up killing American soldiers and civilians, who will answer for this growing blowback?
UPDATE: Some idea of where ISIS might have obtained those TOW missile systems:
— Rami (@RamiAlLolah) April 26, 2015
Also important to note that the TOW is being used against ISIS as well:
— Tem ציונות مجاهد (@lievan_tem) June 3, 2015
U.S. coalition aircraft struck ISIS positions in support of Syrian rebels, including Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official Syria affiliate, along with another prominent jihadist group, Ahrar al-Sham. This is a dramatic shift from just a year and a half ago, when Obama administration officials said they would support Islamist groups as long as they weren’t allied with Al-Qaeda.
Agence France Presse reports:
US-led aircraft bombed Islamic State group fighters as they battled rival Syrian rebels, including Al-Qaeda loyalists, for the first time, a monitoring group said on Sunday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights described the overnight raids in northern Aleppo as an intervention on the side of the rival rebels, which include forces who have been targeted previously by US-led strikes.
“The coalition carried out at least four strikes overnight targeting IS positions in the town of Suran,” the Britain-based Observatory said.
“It’s the first time that the international coalition has supported non-Kurdish opposition forces fighting the Islamic State,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
He said at least eight IS fighters were killed in the strikes and another 20 were injured.
This is also the first time that the U.S. has openly acted as air support for Al-Qaeda.
It needs to be stressed that U.S. airstrikes have targeted Jabhat al-Nusra in just the past month. Now we are effectively their air force. Nusra was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. in December 2012.
Some may remember the breathless media reports last September that a previously unmentioned terror group operating inside Syria was plotting attacks on the U.S. and other Western targets, described by U.S. officials as the “Khorasan group.” As Al-Aan TV later revealed, the “Khorasan group” was nothing more than an elite group of foreign fighters working as part of Jabhat al-Nusra.
Thus began a series of U.S. strikes targeting al-Nusra:
Sept. 23: An airstrike killed Nusra leader Abu Yousef al-Turki.
Nov. 13: A Nusra base near Idlib was hit killing two.
Nov. 19: A storage facility controlled by Nusra was struck near the Turkish border at Harem.
March 9: A local Nusra headquarters in Bab al-Hawa was targeted close to the Turkish border.
May 20: Two Nusra buildings in Tawama were destroyed, killing 15 fighters.
This dramatic shift in U.S. policy towards al-Nusra has not gone unnoticed:
— Haidar Sumeri (@IraqiSecurity) June 7, 2015
Don't you love it when people say "Oh al Qaeda is just one group in the Jaish al-Fatah coalition we're supporting."
— Max Abrahms (@MaxAbrahms) June 8, 2015
— Sufyan Al-Baghdadi (@sualbaghdadi) June 7, 2015
So what changed?
UPDATE: One of the Foreign Affairs writers has responded to this article, and I’ve responded in kind below.
Imagine the following headlines during World War Two:
December 1941: “If you talk about Pearl Harbor, you’re aiding Japanese imperialism.”
December 1944: “If you talk about the German encirclement of Bastogne, you’re aiding the Nazis.”
August 1940: “If you talk about the Italian conquest of British Somaliland, you’re aiding fascism.”
For most today, these statements would seem silly. During that time, they would have been taken for a case of insanity.
But this sort of headline is what we were treated to in Foreign Affairs this week in response to the conquest of Ramadi in Iraq last week by the Islamic State in an article, “Don’t Aid ISIS,” by Bridget Moreng and Nathaniel Barr.
— Foreign Affairs (@ForeignAffairs) June 2, 2015
Their argument is that if you recognize the ISIS conquest of Ramadi and talk about its possible implications, you’re aiding ISIS propaganda efforts:
Alarmist analyses of Ramadi aren’t just wrong, they’re dangerous. By inaccurately interpreting the takeover as an indication that ISIS is on the rise, commentators are playing directly into the group’s narrative [...]
This dynamic has been a problem for some time. In November 2014, multiple leading news outlets reported that ISIS had taken over the Libyan city of Derna, when in reality, ISIS was only one group in a patchwork of militant organizations operating in the city. And this time around, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour quoted a former CENTCOM advisor saying that 6,000 Iraqi forces had fallen to just 150 ISIS fighters in Ramadi. This claim is almost certainly untrue, as ISIS is unlikely to have sent only 150 fighters to wrest control of a major urban city. This is the type of exaggerated analysis that plays into ISIS’ hands by portraying it as a super-human fighting force.
ISIS has even incorporated Western analysts’ comments into its own propaganda: its monthly English-language magazine Dabiq dedicates a section—entitled “In the Words of the Enemy”—to quoting Western government officials and analysts who have warned of ISIS’ growing strength.
Analysts should remember that their assessments of ISIS’ capabilities resonate far beyond the Beltway and the national media. Misinterpretations of battlefield developments and exaggerations of the jihadists’ strength complicate U.S. efforts to fight them in the arena of public opinion, and by extension, on the battlefield.
There seems to be several things happening here.
With respect to their claims about the number of ISIS fighters in Ramadi, you have their naked assertion of what they think ISIS would do versus a statement by a former CENTCOM adviser to a news organization. Had Moreng and Barr responded with “ISIS mobilized X elements from city Y to Ramadi,” then their dismissal of the CNN report would have more merit. As it is, they’re engaged in little more than wishful thinking. Is their denial of the claim sufficient to dismiss the report altogether? Clearly not. An account with actual reality-based reporting in the Wall Street Journal is leagues more substantive.
In recent weeks, the Muslim Brotherhood has stepped up their terrorist activity and made unmistakable calls for more violence in Egypt, effectively dropping the “moderate” mask that gave cover to Western analysts and government officials going back to the Bush administration.
This policy has nonetheless stayed intact — the Obama administration continues to meet with and be advised by Brotherhood officials.
A March 2007 Foreign Affairs article, “The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood,” provided talking points to the D.C. foreign policy “smart set” advising a continuance of this charade. At the time, I was one of the few analysts publicly challenging claims of the Brotherhood’s “moderation,” and I documented elsewhere the foreign policy disaster wrought by embracing the Muslim Brotherhood and other so-called “moderate” Islamists.
Just days before my arrival in Cairo last year, two Muslim Brotherhood members were killed in a shootout with Egyptian security forces as they attacked a police checkpoint in the Nile Delta. At the same time, the ISIS-linked Sinai terrorist group that has been waging a terror campaign there released a suicide bomber video showing one individual who was know to have been involved in the Muslim Brotherhood protests that were broken up by Egyptian authorities in August 2013.
As I traveled into Upper Egypt I saw churches and ancient monasteries that had been burned down by Muslim Brotherhood mobs, complete with graffiti identifying those terrorist acts with the group. I interviewed Coptic church officials who gave testimony to the direct role of Muslim Brotherhood officials in those attacks, which were responsible for the destruction of more than 70 churches and 1000+ Christian homes in the space of just a few days:
But when the United Arab Emirates gave terrorist designations to two U.S. Muslim Brotherhood groups in its efforts to stamp them out last November, the State Department weighed in on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Calls by the Muslim Brotherhood for increased violence by their members have escalated over the course of this year:
- In January, the group’s official website posted a statement calling for a “long, uncompromising jihad” and directing its members to prepare for such. This statement was posted just a day after top Muslim Brotherhood leaders were hosted at the State Department.
- A group called the “Revolutionary Punishment Movement” closely tied with the Brotherhood issued a statement in early February warning all foreigners and diplomats to leave the country by February 28 or possibly be faced with becoming targets in their attacks.
- Late last week, the Muslim Brotherhood published an official statement in English and in Arabic stating that “the revolutionary option with all its means and mechanisms is its strategic choice from which there will be no retreat,” and justifying the killing of politicians, judges, security officials and media personnel.
Just two weeks ago, the official spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood was openly calling for beheadings:
MB's call for violence here is very explicit: https://t.co/hhHHpHAEbe It's calling for retribution and cutting off heads from rotten bodies.
— Eric Trager (@EricTrager18) May 18, 2015
These calls for increased violence have received official sanction by Islamic clerics associated with the Muslim Brotherhood:
MB sheikh Essam Telemeh says Mufti, judges, etc. who 'oppress' like 'thugs' that is people can kill them for revenge https://t.co/JjXBSZlNvf
— مختار عوض (@Mokhtar_Awad) May 17, 2015
MB Sheikh Essam Telemeh says if police detains your mother, wife, etc. you should organize & kidnap theirs as hostage http://t.co/NzAWPduj7d
— مختار عوض (@Mokhtar_Awad) February 1, 2015
Akram Kassab of the International Union of Muslim Scholars — one of the top Islamic bodies in the world — called the assassination of Egyptian judges who sentenced Muslim Brotherhood leaders to death a “religious duty.”
The threats and exhortations are having the intended effect. Muslim Brotherhood cadres are responding to these calls for an expanded terror campaign:
April 25: Four individuals identified by police as members of the Muslim Brotherhood accidentally killed themselves in Beni Suef while making bombs.
May 10: Two Muslim Brotherhood members were killed while carrying IEDs on a motorcycle that went off prematurely in Fayoum. One of the men was the son of a Muslim Brotherhood leader.
May 18: Two Muslim Brotherhood members were killed in a firefight with police at a hideout in Helwan. The pair were suspects in an attack on a judge’s home.
May 19: A Muslim Brotherhood member was wounded as he was building bombs in his apartment in a Cairo suburb.
May 20: A Muslim Brotherhood member who was the main suspect in the killing of a Homeland Security colonel in April was killed in a confrontation with police near Cairo.
May 26: Police arresting Muslim Brotherhood members in Giza discovered a workshop where various weapons were manufactured.
More instances could be cited denoting the upward terror trend.
An American, Ahmad Abousamra, who was wanted by the FBI since 2009 and listed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list since 2013, was killed today according to a statement published by the Iraqi government. He was reportedly one of the top ISIS media propagandist officials and involved in the production of videos showing the beheadings of Western ISIS hostages.
The Iraqi Ministry of Interior announced the death of dozens of ISIS terrorists in an air strike in the west of Anbar province, Al Arabiya News Channel reported on Sunday.
Among those killed was “Abu Mohammed al-Soory,” also known as “Abi Samra,” who is reportedly an expert in filmmaking, and ISIS documentary film maker, “Abu Osama al-Amriky.”
And in a statement obtained by Al Arabiya News, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior announced the elimination of various ISIS commanders of various nationalities in an air strike that targeted their compound in the city of Qaim in the jurisdiction of Fallujah, “after following the leaderships (ISIS) meetings in a complex reconnaissance operation.” [...]
The statement by the ministry added that, “amongst those killed were Abu Mohammed the Syria, nicknamed Abu Samra, who is an ISIS filmmaking expert, Abu Osama the American who is a documentary specialist for the militant group in addition to Abu Hareth Al Shami, Abu Aicha Al Ansari who is an explosives expert, Abu Saif Al Jazrawy, a Morrocan national, Abu Hussein Al Sulaimani who was in charge of the militant group’s charity foundation, Abdullatif Jumaa Al Mohammedy who was in charge of suicide bomber operations in Fallujah.
From the Iraqi Interior Ministry statement, it appears that another American, Abu Osama al-Amriki, may have also been killed.
Abousamra, who fled the U.S. in 2006 and was indicted in a Boston-area terrorism case in 2009, was identified as one of the top ISIS propaganda experts who may have been involved in the production and filming of videos showing the beheading of Western ISIS hostages.
In announcing Abousamra’s addition to the Most Wanted Terrorists list, the FBI said about his 2009 indictment:
Ahmad Abousamra was indicted after taking multiple trips to Pakistan and Yemen, where he allegedly attempted to obtain military training for the purpose of killing American soldiers overseas. On November 5, 2009, a federal arrest warrant was issued for Abousamra in the United States District Court, District of Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts, after he was charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists; providing and attempting to provide material support to terrorists; conspiracy to kill in a foreign country; conspiracy; and false statements. Abousamra was indicted on a total of nine charges and should be considered armed and dangerous.
The FBI had previously published this video, “Seeking Ahmad Abousamra“:
ABC News reported back in September about Abousamra’s propaganda role for the Islamic State:
The senior law enforcement official said it appears now that Abousamra may have taken up a similar job with ISIS as his co-conspirators had for AQI. Abousamra, the FBI says, has a “college degree related to computer technology and was previously employed at a telecommunications company.”
“There continues to be a worldwide search for Abousamra and he will be pursued until he is found,” another official, FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Kieran Ramsey, told ABC News. The government offers a $50,000 reward for information leading to his capture.
Terrorism observers have noted ISIS’s media savvy, from viral meme-like postings and hashtag campaigns on Twitter to elaborate full-production videos – efforts that can multiply the perception of ISIS’s breadth and power in Syria and Iraq.
As investigative journalist Paul Sperry reported for the New York Post, Abousamra was also tied to the notorious Islamic Society of Boston mosque also attended by the Boston bombers and other convicted terrorists:
Abousamra’s father, a prominent doctor, even sat on the board of directors of the Muslim organization that runs the mosque. He stepped down after the FBI began questioning his son. [...]
Abousamra’s father, Dr. Abdulbadi Abousamra, was president of the Islamic Center of New England mosques until 2007, when he moved to Detroit. The FBI began questioning his son a year earlier. As mosque president, internal documents show, Dr. Abousamra hired Hafiz Masood, brother of a known Pakistani terrorist, to be the imam of a mosque in Sharon, Mass., which his son also attended.
Ilya Feoktistov, Director of Research for the Boston-based Americans for Peace and Tolerance, which has tracked Islamic extremism and terrorism cases in the Boston area, has thoroughly documented the Abousamra family ties to ISB.
In a statement provided to PJ Media, Feoktistov said:
Ahmad Abousamra was just one of twelve individuals Americans for Peace and Tolerance have identified as worshippers or leaders at the extremist Islamic Society of Boston who have either been killed, imprisoned, or are fugitives from the law due to terrorist activity. Abousamra was not just a fringe figure in the Boston Muslim community. To the contrary, his father was vice president of the Muslim American Society, president of the Islamic Center of New England mosques in the Boston suburbs, and is still the president of the Islamic Academy of New England – a K-5 religious private school. Abousamra Sr. left America for Qatar after his son was announced as wanted by the FBI.
Abousamra’s death might temporarily put a crimp in the Islamic State’s propaganda efforts targeting Westerners, but with more than a hundred Americans and U.S. persons fighting for terror groups in Syria and Iraq, Abousamra may be quickly replaced.
Going back to 2007, I’ve reported on the growing problem of terror recruitment in the Twin Cities, particularly in the Somali community there.
In December 2007 I reported here at PJ Media on a well-attended terror fundraiser held in a prominent hotel in downtown Minneapolis that Homeland Security was warned about, but did nothing to prevent. Note that this was nearly a year before anyone else in the media was even paying attention to the recruitment of Somalis by foreign terrorist organizations.
Fast-forward to July 2009, and the media only then began reporting that the same meeting I had covered a year and a half before was the tipping point for terror recruitment in the Twin Cities. By that time, nearly two dozen young men had already been recruited and were fighting with Al-Shabaab in Somalia.
I have continued to report on that continued terror recruitment, including suicide bombers recruited from the streets of Minneapolis, and the extremist statements made by prominent Islamic leaders in the community.
More recently, I reported here on the failed jihadist deradicalization program set up by the chief federal judge of the District of Minnesota.
And in my article earlier this week on the rapidly escalating number of terror arrests in the U.S., I noted that many of the terror suspects nabbed by law enforcement this year for attempting to travel overseas to join ISIS have come out of Minneapolis.
Now comes documentary producer Ami Horowitz, who went to Minneapolis and conducted interviews with members of the Somali community there, finding widespread support for Islamic law over American law, as well as blasphemy laws limiting the First Amendment to punish depictions of Muhammad.
Back in November 2013, I appeared in an episode of The Blaze TV’s “For The Record” news magazine program talking about how court documents in many of these terror cases reveal the systematic recruitment inside the largest mosque in Minnesota, Masjid Abubakar As-Saddique.
In the following clip from that episode, “Minnesota Martyrs,” Abdirizak Bihi — whose nephew was recruited and killed fighting with Al-Shabaab, and I talk about the dozens of terror recruits tied to that mosque:
The problem of terror recruitment and promotion of widespread extremist ideologies in the Somali community is not an abstract concept for me, as my own hometown of Columbus, Ohio, has also seen a series of terror arrests over the years. Columbus has the second largest Somali population of any city in the country behind Minneapolis.
In November 2007, Columbus resident Nuradin Abdi pled guilty to his role in an Al-Qaeda terror cell in my city. According to court documents, Abdi and his associates discussed attacking an area shopping mall on “Black Friday,” the busiest shopping day of the year. Sentenced to 10 years in prison, Abdi was released in 2012 and deported back to Somalia.
A 50-year-old grandmother from Indianapolis who was profiled by Fox News in 2010 is back in the news in Germany, where she now lives, for the open support she and her jihadist husband are showing for the Islamic State.
Kathie Smith, who four years ago pleaded that she was a patriotic American just exercising her free speech, has now dropped that pretense. She publicly praises ISIS, the Taliban, and senior Al-Qaeda operatives. Refugees now living in Germany from areas victimized by ISIS were disturbed last summer when Smith and her husband flew the ISIS flag outside their home in Saarbrücken.
Smith first appeared in the media in a December 2010 article by investigative reporter Jana Winter at Fox News after Smith posted a video which included pictures of her and her German husband holding weapons interspersed with pictures of German terrorists. Wrote Winter:
A 46-year-old, blue-eyed grandmother and U.S. citizen from Indiana is under investigation for her possible ties to suspected and convicted international terrorists, FoxNews.com has learned.
Muslim-convert Kathie Smith, 46, of Indianapolis, married a suspected German jihadist tied to the Islamic Jihad Union last year and has been flying back and forth between the U.S. and Germany as recently as two weeks ago.
A pro-jihadist video featuring Smith and her husband is being investigated by the Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center, a threat and counterterror intelligence analysis clearinghouse staffed by law enforcement officials from local and federal agencies, including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.
“Certainly, it’s being looked at evaluated by Indiana State Police, which runs Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center, ” Indiana Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Emily Norcross told FoxNews.com, adding that the video would be passed along to appropriate law enforcement for further investigation [...]
In the nearly six-minute video, under investigation, the Indiana grandmother and her husband, known online as Salahudin Ibn Ja’far, 28, appear posing and hugging and holding weapons interspersed with photos of known and suspected terrorists and assorted jihadist propaganda, like an Awlaki sermon album cover. There are photos of German Taliban Mujahideen and Daniel Martin Schneider, Eric Breininger and Houssain Al-Malla, members of the Saarland cell of Islamic Jihad Union charged with plotting failed terror attacks against U.S. targets in Germany, including Ramstein Air Force Base.
Predictably, “Jihad Kathie” denied any terrorist ties. She painted herself as an America-loving victim just exercising her First Amendment rights when questioned by the local media:
But she also exercised her First Amendment rights by pulling her incriminating YouTube video.
Her cause was picked up by Ryan J. Reilly at Talking Points Memo. He derided Winter’s article, claiming that Fox had “flubbed” the story.
But national terror experts interviewed by local media confirmed the Fox report, saying that “Jihad Kathie” had been on the terror radar for years. Reilly had buried this information halfway down his article. (Reilly, now the Justice reporter at the Huffington Post, made news last summer during the Ferguson riots when he infamously mistook foam earplugs for rubber bullets.)
Now, four-and-a-half years later, there’s no question where this Indiana grandmother’s loyalties lie. The taken name of her husband, Salahudin ibn Ja’far (his real name is Michel Al Rubai), came up in the investigation of 2010 Stockholm suicide bomber Taimour al-Abdaly and also in the 2011 killing of two U.S. Air Force personnel at the Frankfurt airport by Arid Uka. Terror researcher Aaron Weisburd has documented that Salahudin was connected with both Al-Abdaly and Uka. Salahudin also publicly praised Uka for killing the two U.S. airmen.
In May 2011, the jihadist couple was interviewed by Der Spiegel for a segment on Islamist networks in Germany which featured Weisburd’s research on their direct ties to a number of known terrorists. (The interview begins around the 2:00-minute mark):
In the interview, Salahudin justifies the killing of German and American soldiers under Islamic law. Again, “Jihad Kathie” claims she was just exercising her rights, and that the earlier media coverage in the U.S. had brought death threats to her family.
In June 2012, Salahudin was placed on one year of probation by a German court for two videos he had posted inciting violence.
Last summer, the couple attracted the attention of German media by hanging an ISIS flag outside their Saarbrücken apartment as the terror group invaded northern Iraq. The invasion included a campaign of ethnic and religious cleansing targeting Christians, Kurds, and Yazidis.
The Saarbrücken neighborhood they live in is inhabited by a number of Assyrian Christian and Kurdish refugees whose people were being victimized by ISIS at that very time. Local groups protested the provocative act, including the Assyrian Cultural Association. An official of that group told the media:
We Assyrian Christians feel very hurt and concerned that in the middle of the city the sign of mass murder and genocide is publicly displayed directed at our fellow Christians.
Salahudin, a Muslim convert, happens to be a descendant of the Syrian Christians widely persecuted by ISIS.
Despite the open display of their ISIS sympathies being widely discussed in Germany by politicians and the media, no other U.S. outlet has yet mentioned the Indiana expatriate jihadist.
Following up on my report earlier today on the 40 terror-related arrests so far this year — nearly double the number for 2013 and 2014 combined — the FBI arrested yesterday another Houston-area man for conspiring to support ISIS.
Asher Abid Khan, a 20-year-old from Spring, Texas, planned to travel to Syria through Turkey to join ISIS, but was lured back home by his family who lied and told him that his mother was dying.
According to the FBI press release:
The criminal complaint alleges Khan and a friend devised a plan to travel to Turkey and on to Syria for the purpose of joining and waging jihad on behalf of ISIL. Khan had allegedly asked a Turkish-based foreign terrorist fighter facilitator that “I wana join ISIS can you help?” He also told someone else that “I wana die as a Shaheed [martyr],” according to the allegations.
Khan’s friend allegedly made it to Syria and ISIL with the assistance of Khan and the foreign terrorist fighter facilitator. Khan had been living in Australia with a relative and made it to Istanbul, Turkey, where he was to meet up with his friend in their quest to join ISIL, according to the complaint. However, Khan’s family sent him false information regarding his mother’s health and he was deceived into returning home to Texas.
Khan apparently made it onto the FBI’s radar when his social media messages turned up in another investigation.
Heavy reports on his friend who did make it to Syria and joined with ISIS:
According to the press release, a friend of Khan’s who he conspired with was able to successfully travel to Syria and joined ISIS. He was not named in the release and was identified in the criminal complaint only as “S.R.G.”
The FBI alleges that Khan put his friend in contact with the Turkish-based ISIS facilitator so that the friend could join the terror group in Syria.
The complaint states that the friend goes by the name Abdullah Ali, and is a Mexican convert to Islam.
He is also from Texas, the FBI says. Ali’s Facebook page states that he is a Houston resident.
The FBI says his Facebook page included photos of S.R.G dressed in camouflage and holding what appeared to be an AK-47-style rifle. He told Khan he had gone through an ISIS boot camp, shot the rifle and “even fought a ‘(l)il bit,’” the FBI said in the complaint.
As I noted in my previous article today, the Islamic terror threat in the American homeland is metastasizing rapidly, due mainly to the recruiting and propaganda efforts of the Islamic State and the sheer number of thousands of foreign fighters pouring into the conflict in Syria.
But with many countries now actively preventing would-be jihadists from traveling to Turkey to link up with the ISIS and other terror groups in Syria, many are now looking for alternative fields of jihad. Reuters reports today on video they obtained of foreign fighters now having joined up with Boko Haram in Nigeria.
And, of course, would-be jihadists frustrated in their attempts to travel abroad are also looking to conduct terror attacks at home with the encouragement of ISIS and other terror groups.
Here’s the full complaint in Khan’s case:
The arrest of two southern California men last week who were planning to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State brings the number of U.S.-based individuals involved in international terror-related cases this year to 40. (UPDATE: with the arrest of Houston-area Asher Abid Khan late Monday for supporting ISIS, the tally is now 41.)
This number highlights the metastasizing Islamic terror threat in the American homeland. At the current pace, by the end of June — halfway through 2015 — the number of cases will exceed the number from the past two years combined (48).
The Islamic State, as well as al-Qaeda affiliates and other Islamic terror groups, have repeatedly called for supporters to conduct attacks inside the American homeland:
- After the U.S. began bombing ISIS targets last September, the group called for attacks in response.
- Just days after the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January, a call for attacks targeting “intelligence officers, police officers, soldiers and civilians” was re-released.
- In March, the group released a “kill list” including the names, photos, and addresses of U.S. military personnel.
- This month, after the attempted terror attack in Garland, Texas, they claimed to have 71 trained operatives located in 15 American cities.
Recent evidence gives cause for concern. As I noted here at PJ Media, FBI Director Comey downplayed the number of Americans who had traveled to Syria to fight with ISIS and other terror groups before the midterm elections. He stated on 60 Minutes that “roughly a dozen” were fighting in Syria. But in February, senior officials corrected that number. They admitted that 180 had traveled to Syria. They also admitted that 40 had returned to the U.S. and posed a potential threat. FBI Director Comey then said they were investigating ISIS suspects in all 50 states.
Underscoring the failure to alert the public regarding the threat, concerned citizens have not been able to find a list of the 40 individuals arrested this year. Until now, a public list simply didn’t exist.
Here they are: the 40 U.S.-based individuals charged in Islamic terror-related cases in 2015.
(This list will undoubtedly grow. I will update with new information as it becomes available.)
May 22: Muhanad Badawi, 24, and Nader Elhuzayel, 24, both of Anaheim, California, were arrested on Thursday for planning to travel to join ISIS. Elhuzayel was arrested at Los Angeles International airport trying to board a flight that included a stopover in Istanbul, presumably where he would have left the flight and tried to cross the Turkey/Syria border. Both were active on social media praising ISIS. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
May 14: Bilal Abood, 37, of Mesquite, Texas, an Iraqi-born naturalized U.S. citizen who migrated to the United States in 2009, was arrested for lying to the FBI about his travel to Syria, where he planned to fight against the Assad regime. In March 2013 he was prevented from boarding a flight at Dallas Fort Worth International airport and was questioned by the FBI. The following month he transited to Mexico and flew to Turkey, returning in September 2013, when he was questioned again by the FBI. A July 2014 search of his computer found a pledge of allegiance to Islamic State caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
May 3: Elton Simpson, 30, and Nadir Soofi, 37, both of Phoenix, Arizona, were killed in a gunfight with law enforcement outside a Garland, Texas community center where a “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest was being held. As I noted here at PJ Media, Simpson had been communicating with known ISIS operatives on Twitter, and had been known to the FBI since 2006 due to his association with convicted terror operative Hassan Abu Jihaad. Soofi grew up in Pakistan and moved to the U.S. as a teenager. The pair attended a Phoenix mosque with previous terror connections. (PJ Media live blog.)
April 23: Mohamad Saeed Kodaimati, 24, of San Diego, California, was arrested on charges of lying to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, Customs and Border Protection, and the FBI about his travels to Syria. As I reported here at PJ Media, Kodaimati was caught in a series of lies related to his work on behalf of a sharia court operated by Jabhat al-Nusra — al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria and a U.S. designated terrorist organization — and also about his role in mediating between Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS in northern Syria. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
April 19: Six men from the Twin Cities area of Minnesota were arrested in Minneapolis and San Diego for conspiracy and material support for terrorism for their plans to travel to join ISIS. Mohamed Abdihamid Farah, 21, Adnan Abdihamid Farah, 19, Abdurahman Yasin Daud, 21, Zacharia Yusuf Abdurahman, 19, Hanad Mustafe Musse, 19, and Guled Ali Omar, 20, had been planning to travel to Syria for more than 10 months, and continued their plan even after several of their associates had been arrested. On May 19, federal prosecutors filed a superseding indictment with additional charges, including a previously arrested associate. It also stated that one of the men, Abdirahman Yasin Daud, had threatened to kill FBI agents if they tried to stop him. As I reported here at PJ Media, the federal judge in the case has said that he is considering releasing some or all of the men to a halfway house to participate in a local “deradicalization” program. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
April 24: Related to the previous case, an associate of the defendants, Mahamed Abukar Said, 19, was arrested for threatening to kill the U.S. attorney general, warning of a “massacre” if the Feds didn’t release his friends, and intimidating an informant in the case on Twitter.
April 10: John T. Booker (aka Muhammad Abdullah Hassan), 20, of Topeka, Kansas was arrested in a plot to detonate a car bomb targeting soldiers at the U.S. Army base at Fort Riley. As I reported here at PJ Media, in April 2014 the FBI publicly dismissed Booker as a terror threat after Fox News published an alert by military authorities warning that Booker intended to conduct an attack on U.S. military personnel. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
April 10: Related to the Booker case, Alexander E. Blair, 28, also of Topeka, Kansas, was charged with failing to report a felony for not informing authorities of Booker’s plans when he had advance knowledge of the plot. The FBI alleged that Blair, who shared Booker’s Islamic extremist views, had loaned Booker money to rent a storage unit to store bomb components. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
April 9: Joshua Van Haften, 34, of Madison, Wisconsin, was charged with trying to provide material support to ISIS by traveling to Syria to join the terror group. He was arrested by Turkish immigration officials in October, and arrested upon his return at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
April 4: Miguel Moran Diaz (aka Azizi al-Hariri), 46, of Miami, Florida was arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm. According to the federal complaint, Diaz was an ISIS supporter who described himself as a “lone wolf” who intended to kill people and engrave the bullet shell casings so that law enforcement would “know there was a sniper in town.” (Complaint.)
April 3: Keonna Thomas (aka Fatayat Al Khilafah), 30, of Philadephia, Pennsylvania was arrested for planning to travel to Syria and martyr herself for ISIS. Thomas had applied for a passport and purchased an electronic visa for Turkey. Prosecutors claimed that she had been voicing support for ISIS on social media since at least August 2013. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
April 2: Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh, 29, originally from Texas, was returned from Pakistan and charged with recruiting others to kill U.S. military personnel. Leaving for Pakistan from Canada in 2007 and serving in a senior position within al-Qaeda, the Obama administration had discussed using a drone to kill Al-Farekh. (DOJ press release. Complaint.)
April 2: Noelle Velentzas, 28, and Asia Siddiqui, 31, both of Queens, New York, were arrested for plotting to detonate a weapon of mass destruction, and even discussed targeting a police funeral. When they were arrested, authorities found bomb-building materials including propane gas tanks, soldering tools, pipes, a pressure cooker, and fertilizer. The pair had previously been roommates, and Siddiqui had been in regular contact with al-Qaeda officials in Yemen, most notably with U.S. al-Qaeda propagandist Samir Khan. In 2009, one of her poems was published in al-Qaeda’s Inspire magazine. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
March 26: Hasan Rasheed Edmonds, 22, of Aurora, Illinois — a U.S. Army National Guard specialist –was arrested at Chicago’s Midway airport on a trip with the eventual destination of Syria to join ISIS. Also arrested was his cousin, Jonas “Yunus” Edmonds, 29, also of Aurora, Illinois, who was charged with planning a terror attack on an Illinois National Guard facility with AK-47s and grenades. He intended to use Hasan’s uniform to enter the facility after his departure. (DOJ press release. Complaint.)
March 18: Tairod Pugh, 47, of Neptune, New Jersey, was charged with material support for a terrorist organization following his attempt to travel to Syria to join ISIS. In January, he flew to Turkey from Egypt, but was sent back by Turkish authorities. A U.S. Air Force veteran, Pugh had expressed on his Facebook page and elsewhere his dislike for America and his allegiance to the jihadi cause. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
February 27: An unnamed 17-year-old from Woodbridge, Virginia was arrested and charged with assisting others trying to join ISIS. As the suspect is a juvenile, the indictment is sealed. However, federal prosecutors have said they intend to charge him as an adult. The teen reportedly wrote for several websites, and published articles in defense of slavery in Islam.
February 24: Three men living in Brooklyn, New York, Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, 24, Akhror Saidakhmetov, 19, and Abror Habibov, 30, were arrested for planning to travel to Syria to join ISIS. Juraboev and Habibov are from Uzbekistan, and Saidakhmetov is from Kazakhistan. Two other individuals – one in Brooklyn, the other in Norfolk, Virginia – were arrested on immigration charges related to the case. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
February 11: An unnamed 16-year-old inspired by ISIS was arrested in York, South Carolina on gun charges. Prosecutors claimed that the teen conspired with another unnamed North Carolina resident to rob a Raleigh gun store, and then use the weapons to shoot up a U.S. military base. In April, he was sentenced to serve five years in juvenile prison until he is 21. Because of the suspect’s age and the lack of a state terrorism statute, he could only be charged with weapons-related offenses. His accomplice in North Carolina has not been named or apparently charged. Local officials claimed they kept the case quiet for “public safety” concerns.
February 6: Ramiz Zijad Hodzic, 40, his wife, Sedina Unkic Hodzic, 35, and Armin Harcevic, 37, all of St. Louis, Missouri, Nihad Rosic, 26, of Utica, N.Y., Mediha Medy Salkicevic, 34, of Schiller Park, Ill., and Jasminka Ramic, 42, of Rockford, Illinois — all Bosnian immigrants — were indicted following a two-year investigation for funneling money, guns, and military hardware to ISIS operatives in Syria. Their support included aiding Abdullah Ramo Pazara, also of St. Louis, who traveled to Syria in 2013 just months after becoming a U.S. citizen, and became a top deputy to ISIS commander Omar al-Shishani and was reportedly killed last year. Rosic was arrested on his way to Syria. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
February 5: Hamza Ahmed, 19, of Minneapolis, Minnesota was charged with lying to the FBI after being stopped from boarding a flight in New York intending to travel to Syria to join ISIS. Ahmed was part of a group of four men who traveled by bus to New York in November. He denied knowing the men he traveled with in an interview with FBI agents. Ahmed had been active on Twitter supporting ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, which kept him in jail following his arrest. Earlier this month, he was charged in a superseding indictment in the case of six other Minneapolis men who were planning to join ISIS. He and another suspect are charged with fraud for using federal student loans to finance their trip. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
February 2: Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, 26, of Columbus, Ohio, was arrested on state terror charges for traveling to Syria and fighting with Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate. In April, Mohamud was indicted on federal charges for plotting terror attacks in the U.S. targeting military and police officials. His brother was reported killed fighting with Jabhat al-Nusra in June 2014. Mohamud reportedly had been conducting weapons training with others after his return from Syria at a local Ohio gun range. As I noted here at PJ Media, he applied for his passport to travel to Syria just a week after becoming a U.S. citizen and days after being caught lying to the FBI. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
January 14: Christopher Lee Cornell (aka Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah), 20, of Green Township, Ohio, was arrested leaving a Cincinnati-area gun store, where he had purchased two semi-automatic rifles and 600 rounds of ammunition. Federal prosecutors allege that Cornell planned to set off pipe bombs around the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. and then to shoot fleeing government workers. During a jailhouse interview with a local TV station, Cornell said that he would have also attacked the Israeli embassy and put a gun to President Obama’s head. Earlier this month he was also charged with material support for ISIS. (FBI press release. Complaint.)
As the Heritage Foundation notes, since 9/11 there have been 68 Islamic domestic terror plots; 57 involved homegrown operatives.
The attempted terror attack this month in Garland, Texas was only averted due to luck and the work of local law enforcement authorities who took the potential threat seriously.
With the number of homegrown Islamic terror operatives increasing rapidly and the calls by Islamic terror groups overseas for attacks on the American homeland coming more regularly, it seems to be only a matter of time before we see another successful attack on American soil in the manner of the Boston bombing, the Fort Hood massacre, and the Little Rock Army recruiting center killing. Or perhaps a larger scale attack, as in Mumbai in November 2008.
When that future attack happens, it will come at a time when the credibility of our counter-terrorism and national security apparatus in speaking honestly about the nature and scope of the threat is at its lowest.
If the jihadist terror attacks in the West over the past year are any indicator, the next domestic terror attack will most likely be by what I have termed a “known wolf” – someone who is already known to law enforcement authorities.
It’s only a question of who, where, and when, and of how many Americans will die.
Just getting news reports that a bomb squad has detonated a device found in a suspicious car near the U.S. Capitol Building.
Breaking 911 reports:
DC Officials, including the bomb squad, have apparently blown up a device from a ‘suspicious’ vehicle parked near Capitol and a Memorial Day Concert.
The item looks like a pressure cooker and propane tanks have been removed from the car.
Thousands of people eager to get into the National Memorial Day Concert were delayed from entering.
Police are still searching the vehicle.
Jay Korff of the local ABC affiliate is tweeting details:
— Jay Korff (@ABC7Jay) May 25, 2015
— Jay Korff (@ABC7Jay) May 25, 2015
— Jay Korff (@ABC7Jay) May 24, 2015
— Jay Korff (@ABC7Jay) May 25, 2015
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) May 25, 2015
UPDATE: The plot thickens…
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 25, 2015
UPDATE2: The Washington Times identifies the arrested man as Israel Shimlis.
Fox News reports:
The incident began at around 5 p.m. local time, when Capitol police officers on patrol noticed a vehicle they deemed “suspicious” on a street that crosses the National Mall west of the Capitol between Constitution and Independence Avenues. Further investigation revealed that the vehicle contained a pressure cooker and detected an odor of gasoline.
A bomb squad was called in and streets were temporarily closed off. The pressure cooker was detonated at approximately 7:45 p.m. The investigation was closed approximately 35 minutes later with nothing further found.
Senior security officials told Fox News that investigators initially believed that the pressure cooker “might be the real deal.” Pressure cookers have been used in several recent terror attacks, mostly notably the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and injured 260 others.
Sources told Fox News that the pressure cooker may have been part of a propane tank used in a food truck.
MORE: Police detect gas odor before destroying pressure cooker from 'suspicious' vehicle near Capitol: http://t.co/n13Ay9lVze
— The Associated Press (@AP) May 25, 2015
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) May 25, 2015
A document entered into court evidence by Justice Department prosecutors in the largest terrorism financing trial in American history, and later cited affirmatively by the federal judge in the case and cleared by the federal appeals court, would seem an unlikely target for a former journalist to try to spin a conspiratorial tale around, namely slandering others of hawking a racist/”Islamphobic” “Protocols of the Elders of Islam.”
And yet that is what David K. Shipler, a former New York Times reporter and winner of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize, is now trying to do.
Clearly upset that so-called “Islamophobes” have been successful using the document – again, discovered by the FBI, submitted into the evidence by federal prosecutors and approved as genuine by the federal court – to expose the Muslim Brotherhood roots of some of America’s largest Islamic organizations, Shipler wields his “Islamophobia” harpoon like Ahab at his “anti-Islam industry” Moby Dick.
He makes his dubious case in a new book out this week, entitled “Freedom of Speech: Mightier Than the Sword” (Alfred A. Knopf), which includes an entire chapter on the subject, and summarizes it in an article published on Tuesday in The New Yorker, “Pamela Geller and the Anti-Islam Movement.” The book received a very lukewarm review in the New York Times this past Sunday.
In the New Yorker article, Shipler claims:
Virtually all the alarm over the coming Islamic takeover and the spread of Sharia law can be traced back to an old document of questionable authority and relevance, “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America.” Dated May 22, 1991, it was found in 2004 by the F.B.I., buried in one of a large number of boxes uncovered during a search of a house in northern Virginia. (I reported on the discovery and the use of the document for my book “Freedom of Speech: Mightier than the Sword.”) It is cited on numerous Web sites, and in articles, videos, and training materials, which quote one another in circular arguments. Its illusion of importance was enhanced by federal prosecutors, who included it in a trove of documents introduced into evidence in the 2007 trial of the Holy Land Foundation, a charitable organization ultimately convicted of sending money to Hamas.
The memo, however, is far from probative. It was never subjected to an adversarial test of its authenticity or significance. Examined closely, it does not stand up as an authoritative prescription for action. Rather, it appears to have been written as a plea to the Muslim Brotherhood leadership for action, by an author we know little about, Mohamed Akram. He is listed elsewhere as a secretary in the Brotherhood, but he writes in the tone of an underling. Islam watchers do not quote his appeal that the recipients “not rush to throw these papers away due to your many occupations and worries. All that I’m asking of you is to read them and to comment on them.” These lines reveal the memo as a mere proposal, now twenty-four years old. No other copies have come to light.
Two features of the memo are highlighted by the Islam watchers: first, its assertion that “the Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within,” and, second, “a list of our organizations and the organizations of our friends.” [emphasis added]
What’s remarkable about Shipler’s treatment of the Explanatory Memorandum in his article and in his book is how much he is willing to quickly dismiss facts that completely undo his case, and how he pays no attention to the glaring contradictions he ends up wrapping himself into trying to debunk the document. At major points he contradicts himself. He breezes over the mountain of evidence that he has to overcome, but that means he can’t plead ignorance of it. One is only left with the conclusion that he’s being intentionally mendacious.
I beg the reader’s indulgence, for I will quote lengthy passages and on occasions paste screenshots from the court documents themselves so you know I’m not engaged in anything dodgy. Tellingly, most of these quotes never appear in Shipler’s book, and if so, only in selectively edited form.
So let’s start with the evidence.
The document he is trying to cast doubts on is known generally as the “Explanatory Memorandum,” but it’s actual title is “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal of the Group in North America.” The document is dated May 22, 1991, and was entered into evidence as “Elbarasse Search – 3″ by federal prosecutors in the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial in 2008.
Helpfully, the federal court overseeing the case in an unusual move posted the trial evidence on their own website. The Explanatory Memorandum and the FBI translation of the document can be found here.
At this point, we can turn to what the Justice Department said in federal court about the Explanatory Memorandum. In one court filing, available on the ACLU’s website, federal prosecutors state (p. 12):
The evidence introduced at trial, for example, established that ISNA and NAIT were among those organizations created by the U.S.-Muslim Brotherhood.8 Govt. Exh. 3-64 (seized from the home of HAMAS leader Ismail Elbarasse); Govt. Exh. 3-3 (Muslim Brotherhood document noting that ISNA was founded by the US-Muslim Brotherhood) ; Govt. Exh. 3-85 (1991 memorandum authored by U.S.-Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council member Mohamed Akram Adlouni, recognizing ISNA and NAIT as Muslim Brotherhood organizations.) Government’s Exhibit 3-85, entitled An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal of the Group, described the Brotherhood’s strategic goal as a kind of “grand Jihad”:
The Ikhwan must understand that their role in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western Civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious…. [emphasis added]
So the Justice Department states that:
1) Two Islamic organizations – the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) – were created by the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood (based on other trial evidence as well as the Explanatory Memorandum);
2) The Explanatory Memorandum was authored by U.S. Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council member Mohamed Akram Adlouni;
3) That the memo describes the Brotherhood’s strategic goal as “a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying Western Civilization from within.”
Now please note that these claims were not made by “Pamela Geller and the Anti-Islam Movement” but the Justice Department in a federal court filing. He can tilt at all of the “anti-Islam” windmills he wants, but fundamentally he still has to explain away the court evidence.
And as stated earlier, much to the consternation of Shipler, the federal court agreed in a published opinion with the Justice Department’s analysis of the document when Judge Jorge Solis ruled on motions from three separate organizations named as unindicted co-conspirators in the trial — ISNA, NAIT, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) — asking to be removed from the Justice Department’s co-conspirator list. The judge’s ruling against removing the groups from the unindicted co-conspirator list was unsealed in 2010.
In that ruling, Judge Solis states (p. 15):
Government Exhibit 3-85 is titled “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America,” authored by Mohamed Akram of the Shura Council of the Muslim Brotherhood and dated May 22, 1991. (Gov’t Ex. 3-85 (Elbarasse 3) at 21.) The “Explanatory Memorandum” includes a section titled “Understanding the role of the Muslim Brother in North America,” which states that the work of the Ikhwan in the United States is “a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” (Id.) Also contained in that document is a list of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “organizations and the organizations of our friends,” which includes ISNA, NAIT, the Occupied Land Fund (“OLF”) (HLF’s former name), and the United Association for Studies and Research (“UASR”). (Id. at 32.)
So Judge Solis found that:
1) The Explanatory Memorandum was authored by Mohamed Akram of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council;
2) That the document describes the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western Civilization from within”;
3) That the document lists the Muslim Brotherhood’s “organizations and the organizations of our friends,” including ISNA and NAIT.
At this point Shipler laughably believes he has room to maneuver. In the New Yorker article and in his book, he makes three general claims:
1) That the judge blindly accepted the Justice Department’s argument about the origins and importance of the memo and never allowed adversarial challenges to its provenance;
2) That the Explanatory Memorandum was admitted as hearsay, meaning that the groups named in the memo were never allowed to challenge in court;
3) That the judge failed to distinguish between the memo’s list of “our organizations” and “the organizations of our friends.”
Let’s take these in order.
1) Judge Solis accepted the Justice Department’s description of the Explanatory Memorandum unquestioningly and never allowed adversarial challenges.
In discussing the order by Judge Solis in response to the motions of the three Islamic organizations, Shipler states in his book (p. 190):
CAIR and two other groups moved to have themselves removed from the list of unindicted co-conspirators, but the effort backfired and gave Islam watchers more ammunition. Not only was their motion denied by Judge Jorge Solis, who presided over the retrial, conviction, and sentencing of the five Holy Land Foundation defendants (the first trial had ended in a hung jury). He also accepted the government’s assertions by citing the seized Elbarasse documents, including the Explanatory Memorandum, without testing their accuracy in an adversarial proceeding. He did not distinguish between the memo’s list of “our organizations” and “the organizations of our friends.” He ruled, “The Government had produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR, ISNA [Islamic Society of North America], and NAIT [North American Islamic Trust] with HLF [Holy Land Foundation], the Islamic Association of Palestine (“IAP”), and with Hamas.” [emphasis added]
Remarkably, Shipler contradicts himself just a few pages later, quoting a defense attorney for the Holy Land Foundation defendants who said that the Elbarasse documents had, in fact, been challenged by the defense team (p. 198):
The defense team lodged vigorous objections to the introduction of this and the other documents from the Elbarasse search, and two attorneys on the defense team, Nancy Hollander and Marlo Cadeddu, scoffed at Guandolo’s statement. “There was no such stipulation by the defense,” said Cadeddu. “Nor would we ever have stipulated to any such thing. Any claims to the contrary are simply untrue.” Indeed, after the five Holy Land officials and fund-raisers were convicted, their lawyers argued specifically, in an unsuccessful appeal to the Fifth Circuit, that the trial judge had erred in admitting the documents, which the attorneys branded hearsay, irrelevant to the charge that the defendants had funneled money to Hamas. [emphasis added]
A terror deradicalization program — established in the “Ground Zero” of terror recruitment, Minnesota’s Twin Cities — has already failed after just a few months.
The program was established after a federal court released 19-year-old terror suspect Abdullahi Yusuf to a halfway house earlier this year. Federal prosecutors opposed Yusuf’s release, but were overruled by the federal judge in the case, Michael J. Davis, the Chief Judge of the District of Minnesota. Today, Yusuf again sits in jail, having violated the terms of his release.
Remarkably, Judge Davis said today in a separate case of six men charged with trying to join the Islamic State that he would be willing to consider “less restrictive options” than detaining the men – just a day after Yusuf’s re-arrest.
Last May, Yusuf was arrested at the Minneapolis airport while on his way to Syria by way of Turkey to join the Islamic State. One of his accomplices, Abdi Nur, did make it to Syria, and he now serves as an effective recruiter for the terror group.
Just last week, the Wall Street Journal reported on the program with an article titled “A Test Case for ‘Deradicalization’“:
The path of reform for Abdullahi Yusuf, a U.S. teenager who tried to become a radical Islamic soldier, passes through writings of Martin Luther King Jr., readings of the U.S. Constitution and discussions about life and literature with a fellow Somali-American named Ahmed Amin.
Mr. Yusuf’s attempt to travel to the Middle East last year helped lead authorities to six Minnesota men who were charged last month in connection with a plan to join Islamic State abroad. The 19-year-old has become a test case for whether Americans lured by Islamic extremism can be deradicalized.
A Minnesota judge earlier this year sent Mr. Yusuf to a halfway house, where he adheres to a tailor-made curriculum aimed at reintegrating him into American society and his immigrant community here. If the program succeeds, Mr. Yusuf’s sentence could be reduced — and the approach to his deradicalization replicated, experts say.
Counterterrorism experts believe it is the first such effort in the U.S. to try to turn a young person connected to a terror prosecution away from an extremist Islamist ideology since the advent of groups like al-Shabaab and Islamic State, or ISIS.
Apparently, reading Martin Luther King Jr., Richard Wright’s Native Son, and articles about the experience of Native Americans didn’t sway Yusuf to keep compliant with the program. The Star-Tribune reports today:
Abdullahi Yusuf, a Somali-American who pleaded guilty to conspiring to support terrorists in the Middle East, has been taken into custody for allegedly violating conditions while living in a St. Paul halfway house, according to court documents filed Monday.
Yusef, a student at Inver Grove Community College, drew national attention after a federal judge decided to place him in a halfway house and provide counseling for him rather than hold him in custody while awaiting sentencing.
Yusuf’s alleged violations were not detailed in court records.
Despite the violations not being detailed, the video report on Abdullahi’s re-arrest aired on the local CBS affiliate notes Abdullahi’s violations occurred on the same day last month that six other Twin Cities men were arrested for attempting to join the Islamic State.
One additional interesting tidbit is that according to the New York Times, federal prosecutors opposed Yusuf’s release:
Mr. Yusuf, Mr. Nur’s co-defendant, has pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support for terrorism and faces a maximum sentence of 15 years. But in an experiment being watched nationally, Judge Michael J. Davis of Federal District Court agreed to a presentence plan to divert Mr. Yusuf to a halfway house with the support of Heartland Democracy, an education nonprofit in Minneapolis. He worked at Best Buy and attended community college until late November, when he was jailed for a time in connection with his attempt to travel to Syria. His supporters are now working with the court to get him back in classes and eventually back in a job.
The idea, said Mary McKinley, executive director of Heartland Democracy, is to gradually reintegrate Mr. Yusuf into the community, and possibly give him a role in countering the radicalization of young people.
“Ideally, Abdullahi will be able to tell his story in a way that is useful to young people who are frustrated and disengaged,” Ms. McKinley said. His lawyer, Jean M. Brandl, said her client was not prepared to speak publicly.
Federal prosecutors opposed giving Mr. Yusuf a break, noting that he had lied to F.B.I. agents at the airport. But Judge Davis, who knows the Somali community well enough to ask about clans and sub-clans, went along with the plan, intended to reduce the chasm between Somalis and law enforcement officials. Parents and friends concerned about a young person drawn to the Islamic State are more likely to call the police, advocates say, if they believe there is an alternative to a long prison sentence.
The Associated Press reports today that during a hearing for the other six men arrested in April accused of trying to join the Islamic State Judge Davis said he is willing to consider “less restrictive options” than holding the men until trial:
Five Minnesota men accused of trying to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group were ordered Tuesday to remain in custody pending trial, but Chief U.S. District Judge Michael Davis said he’s open to exploring less restrictive options.
The five men are all charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization; four are charged with attempting to provide such support. Their attorneys had appealed orders that the men be held while their cases proceed, arguing their clients weren’t dangerous or a flight risk.
In separate hearings for each man Tuesday, Davis said no set of conditions could reasonably ensure the community’s safety or guarantee that each man would not flee. But he told attorneys to come up with plans that could support their release.
“I’m not rushing into this,” Davis said. “It’s a slow process. But I’m taking a look at each of these defendants individually.”
As the saying goes, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”
Within the past hour, several tweets featuring the #LondonAttack hashtag have shown up on Twitter, including one warning Muslims to leave the area of Covent Gardens:
— Nick The Hammer (@nick1995whufc) May 11, 2015
— TakodasGal (@StayingInUSA) May 11, 2015
After that account was suspended, the user apparently began tweeting under a new account:
Others seem to show an explosive device and weapons:
Over the weekend, there were fake Twitter threats from Islamic State supporters targeting two international flights that were subsequently diverted.
But, as was widely reported, one of the would-be jihadists targeting the Texas “Draw Muhammad” event posted a tweet on his account featuring the #texasattack hashtag just minutes before the two terrorists were killed in a gunfight outside the event. These users are clearly trying to mimic that.
— JΞSTΞR ✪ ACTUAL²³ (@th3j35t3r) May 11, 2015
Just to qualify, we cannot vouch for the veracity of these tweets or their threats.
UPDATE: The user who apparently made the initial threat posted a screenshot of this article:
Yesterday at PJ Media, I reported on conflicting stories offered by the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix (ICCP) regarding former mosque attendees Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, who were killed this past Sunday in a gunfight outside a Dallas-area center where a “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest was being held.
I noted the attempts by the mosque president, Usama Shami, to downplay the ties of the two would-be terrorists. This included Shami’s claim to the press that neither was a regular member. In fact, Elton “Ibrahim” Simpson had been featured in a mosque fundraising video posted on ICCP’s YouTube channel in 2012 identifying him as a member:
In fact, Simpson and Soofi were not the only two terrorists spawned from ICCP. Two other previous ICCP mosque attendees — Hassan Abu-Jihaad and Derrick Shareef — are currently in federal prison on terrorism-related charges.
There are remarkable parallels with Simpson and Soofi, including that Abu-Jihaad and Shareef were also roommates.
Further, Usama Shami attempted to downplay their association with ICCP as well. He told the Arizona Republic he never saw the pair – despite court records in both their cases stating they had attended the mosque.
Abu-Jihaad is currently serving a 10-year federal prison sentence for passing classified information to a UK-based al-Qaeda webmaster. According to the Justice Department:
In 2001, Abu-Jihaad was serving as a U.S. Navy signalman aboard the U.S.S. Benfold and had access to the future movements of his group of ships, led by the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Constellation. Six months after the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, and before leaving home port in San Diego for a deployment in the Persian Gulf, Abu-Jihaad transmitted then-classified information about his battle group’s itinerary, listing dates for anticipated port calls in Hawaii and Australia, and for the battle group’s transit through the Strait of Hormuz. Abu-Jihaad’s disclosure discussed the battle group’s perceived vulnerability to terrorist attack.
The leak did not come to light until well after Abu-Jihaad left the Navy, when an investigation into Azzam Publications led to the search of a London apartment associated with one of the website’s organizers, and authorities found a floppy disk containing the U.S. Navy information. Subsequent investigation uncovered several email exchanges from late 2000 to late 2001 between members of Azzam Publications and Abu-Jihaad, including discussions regarding videos Abu-Jihaad ordered from Azzam Publications that promoted violent jihad and extolled the virtues of martyrdom; a donation of money Abu-Jihaad made to Azzam Publications; and whether it was “safe” to send materials to Abu-Jihaad at his military address onboard the U.S.S. Benfold.
The FBI established a direct tie between Abu-Jihaad and Simpson according to court documents in the latter’s 2010 trial, as Simpson was first questioned by the FBI in 2006 when authorities believed he might be part of a terror cell:
In 2006, agents opened a criminal investigation of him based on his ties with an individual “whom the FBI believed was attempting to set up a terrorist cell in Arizona,” according to court documents.
Agents say Simpson knew Hassan Abu-Jihaad, an enlistee in the U.S. Navy later convicted of leaking classified information about upcoming movements of his battle group to an alleged terror cell in London. Simpson told agents he knew Abu-Jihaad, who was arrested in Phoenix in 2007, but did not tell them anything else about him.
Undoubtedly, what launched that 2006 investigation was the activity of Abu-Jihaad’s former roommate, Derrick Shareef.
Shareef was arrested in 2006 for his role in a plot to set off hand grenades at a Rockford, Illinois shopping mall during the holiday season. He later pled guilty on a charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
During his trial, the FBI provided video tapes of Shareef threatening Americans:
“You are the enemies of Islam, for the sake of Allah we are coming for you,” Shareef says in a tape that looks like it could have been shot somewhere in the Middle East. In fact, the camera was 90 miles from Chicago in a Rockford home where the 22-year-old and a friend each made several videos declaring their desire for destruction.
“We will target you in your homes. We will target you in your businesses. We will target you in your synagogues and your churches. We do not fear you Kafirs. I swear by Allah I am ready to give my life right now for the cause,” the tape says.
As I have reported extensively here at PJ Media over the past year, a growing mountain of evidence confirms that the “vetted moderate” Sunni groups that the U.S. has backed in Syria — backing which includes CIA-provided heavy weaponry – have always been working with the very same jihadist groups that the Obama administration and the Washington, D.C. foreign policy “smart set” have consistently claimed they would counter.
Now, a new report establishes that even more CIA-backed “vetted moderate” groups are collaborating with groups designated by the U.S. as terrorist organizations. Specifically, they are collaborating with al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, though at times they have also operated jointly with the Islamic State.
Reuters reported last Thursday that two Free Syrian Army (FSA) units — Division 13 and Fursan al-Haq — are fighting side-by-side with the Nusra Front in northern Syria:
Hardline Islamists fighting side-by-side with groups backed by the United States have made gains in northern Syria in recent weeks while showing rare unity, which some fear may be short-lived.
An Islamist alliance calling itself Army of Fatah, a reference to the conquests that spread Islam across the Middle East from the seventh century, has seized northwestern towns including the provincial capital Idlib from government forces.
The alliance, which includes al-Qaeda’s wing in Syria, known as the Nusra Front, and another hardline militant group, the Ahrar al-Sham movement, is edging closer to the coastal province of Latakia, President Bashar al-Assad’s stronghold.
Fighting alongside them, although excluded from a joint command center, are groups which reject the jihadists’ anti-Western aims and say they receive covert support from the CIA. Two of these are called Division 13 and Fursan al-Haq.
While the Islamist groups appear to be stronger than their Western-backed allies, it is a rare example of cooperation, just weeks after Nusra Front fighters crushed a previous U.S. backed rebel force in a blow to Washington’s Syria strategy.
Remarkably, Reuters (as well as many other establishment media outlets) continues to present this level of cooperation between U.S.-backed groups in Syria and terrorist organizations as “rare.”
This is categorically false.
In an effort to preserve that narrative, Reuters added this howler:
Abu Hamoud, a commander from Division 13, said his group coordinated with Nusra Front, which the United States considers a terrorist organization, but this does not mean it is aligned to it.
As if “coordinating” with al-Qaeda is functionally different from “aligning” with al-Qaeda.
In service of this narrative, establishment media have attempted to create distinctions between Nusra and other U.S.-backed groups. Reports have noted that the Nusra Front had recently taken out two of the major Syrian rebel groups, Harakat al-Hazm (in March) and the Syrian Revolutionaries Front (in November), and that both had been trained and received heavy weapons from the United States. However, both groups had been openly cooperating with Nusra before their demise.
Both Hazm and SRF had their “vetted moderate” credentials provided by the D.C. foreign policy establishment, which deemed Hazm as “rebels worth supporting” and SRF as “the West’s best fighting chance against Syria’s Islamist armies.”
Last year, just as SRF was in line to receive CIA-provided anti-tank missiles, SRF commander Jamal Maroof told Western media that he had no intention of fighting al-Qaeda.
A few weeks later, the Wall Street Journal reported that SRF had been fighting alongside the Nusra Front in the Golan Heights of southern Syria. In September, Agence France Presse reported that SRF had struck a truce with the Islamic State, thus ending any notion that they ever had a chance “against Syria’s Islamist armies.”
When Liz Sly of the Washington Post interviewed the commander of Hazm in April 2014 just as they were beginning to receive heavy weapons shipments from the U.S., the commander gave a double-sided response about Nusra:
LS: You have already participated in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. What are your relations with Jabhat al-Nusra?
AA: Jabhat al-Nusra is a military formation, a fighting battalion that exists on the ground like any other. We have no strong or meaningful relationship with them. They fight on their fronts, and we fight on ours.
LS: What do you think of them?
AA: They hold responsibility for bringing ISIS fighters to Syria from across the world. This was a mistake committed against the Syrian people. I think of them as a group of people fighting to topple the regime, but if they change their ideology to resemble that of ISIS or bring death and destruction upon the Syrian people, then we won’t allow it.
In September, an article in the L.A. Times reporting from the frontlines in Syria recorded an exchange with two Hazm fighters armed and trained by the U.S. The fighters admitted that they liked Nusra and fought in coordination with them.
Just a few weeks later, as U.S. warplanes began to target the Islamic State in northern Syria, Hazm issued an official statement condemning the strikes as “an attack on the revolution” Of the U.S., they demanded “unconditional arming” of the Syrian rebels.
After two attendees of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix (ICCPA) were killed in a gunfight Sunday night in Garland, Texas, outside a facility where a “Draw Muhammad” contest was being held, the leaders of the mosque have given conflicting stories about the relationship the two had with the place of worship.
Most of the conflicting accounts have come from mosque president Usama Shami, who has been regularly featured in multiple press reports following the events Sunday evening. Most of his statements have been attempts to distance the mosque from the two would-be terrorists.
For example, a Dallas Morning News article quotes him as saying the pair were not regular members:
Usama Shami, president of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, said Simpson and Soofi attended prayers at the mosque but were not regular members. Simpson started attending Friday prayers at the mosque about 10 years ago, he said, but visited the mosque less frequently after he was arrested.
But in fact, a video posted on the ICCPA YouTube channel in 2012 features Elton (“Ibrahim”) Simpson and identifies him as a member:
The above quote by Shami asserts that Simpson stopped frequenting the mosque after his 2010 arrest. Another account by a local spokeswoman published in the Arizona Republic claimed that the mosque had shunned Simpson:
Deedra Abboud, a converted Muslim and a former community activist-turned-lawyer said Wednesday that members of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix were scared and that “everybody’s being pressured by the FBI.”
Abboud also said that while the FBI’s case bothered Simpson, so did a sense that the mosque turned its back on him.
“It was a combination of the two things: harassment by the FBI and the Muslim community avoiding him like the plague,” said Abboud, who helped raise money for Simpson’s bail and knows many of his closest acquaintances.
“It was the isolation,” she said. “My theory is that he was upset with the Muslim community and he became more susceptible to radical ideas.”
However, mosque president Shami stated several times that it was only within the past few months that the pair stopped attending:
Simpson had worshipped at the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix for about a decade, but he quit showing up over the past two or three months, the president of the mosque told The Associated Press.
The center’s president, Usama Shami, said Simpson would play basketball with mosque members and was involved with the community. Soofi owned a nearby pizza business and would stop in to pray occasionally, he said.
That account was repeated by the L.A. Times:
Usama Shami, president of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, remembers Simpson as “a pleasant kid” who taught his jump shot to younger children at basketball courts near the mosque. Simpson attended the mosque beginning in his high school years, Shami said, and was active until just months ago.
“We didn’t see him too much lately,” said Shami, whose mosque is about two miles from the apartment shared by Simpson and Soofi.
So we see Shami giving two very different versions of Simpson’s attendance at the mosque.
Shami also tried to distance the mosque from Simpson’s 2010 arrest:
Shami disagreed that the mosque shunned Simpson. The mosque did decline to raise money for his legal defense, he said, concerned with not knowing where the FBI case would lead.
“Our first priority is to protect the mosque. It cannot be part of any federal case,” he explained, adding that Simpson was always welcome to attend even after his conviction.
And yet, multiple media reports quote Simpson’s attorney, Kristina Sitton, saying the mosque posted a $100,000 cash bond after his arrest:
The Islamic Community Center of Phoenix posted $100,000 cash bond to release him from custody, Sitton said.
Again, from the L.A. Times:
Simpson was placed on three years’ probation and fined $600. His mosque in Phoenix had posted his $100,000 bail.
That hardly seems to be a way to keep the mosque clear of Simpson’s charges.
Whether it is the membership status of the pair with the mosque, the repeated claims that they had cut ties with the mosque years ago, or that the mosque didn’t want to get involved in Simpson’s 2010 court case, the ICCPA leaders can’t seem to keep their story straight.
A Kansas City mosque that petitioned Barack Obama to ban free speech defaming Islam in 2012 will hold the funeral for one of the two jihadists killed in a shootout Sunday outside a Dallas-area convention center that was hosting a “Draw Muhammad” cartoon contest.
The Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City (ISGKC) will hold a funeral on Thursday for Nadir Soofi, according to KCTV5:
The funeral for one of the people suspected in a chilling attack outside a Texas art contest will be held in the metro.
While Nadir Soofi never lived in the metro his father lives in an Overland Park neighborhood near 158th Place with his wife, Nadir’s stepmother. A woman who came to the door at the home told KCTV5 that the family didn’t want to talk about what happened to Soofi.
Police say the 34-year-old and 30-year-old Elton Simpson opened fire at a Dallas area conference center on Sunday. An art exhibit and contest depicting the Prophet Mohammad was being held there.
They wounded a security guard before police shot back, killing both.
While not mentioned in the article’s text, the KCTV5 video report specifically states that Soofi’s funeral service will be at ISGKC.
As I reported at PJ Media back in September 2012, ISGKC launched an online petition calling for Barack Obama to sponsor a bill limiting the free speech of American citizens by criminalizing insults to religion (namely, Islam) following international protest of the “Innocence of Muslims” video.
The petition, which was signed by the ISGKC executive board and posted on the mosque’s website, received 348 signatures. One of the mosque board members defended the petition in an interview with the local media following our PJ Media report:
“Insulting somebody else or putting somebody down can insight violence and lead to people losing their lives. We’re trying not to give these people a chance to misbehave,” said Mohammed Kohia, who started the petition along with the executive board of the Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City.
But as a local ACLU attorney explained:
Somebody’s speech is no excuse for violence, that’s right … but you can’t punish the speaker for the violence practiced by others. While I understand why they’re upset, their preposition is clearly unconstitutional.
As I noted at the time, the position of ISGKC was particularly peculiar given that the mosque had hosted internationally renowned Islamic hate speaker Khalid Yasin, whose controversial statements include calling for the death penalty for gays and describing the beliefs of Christians and Jews as “filth.”
An Australian news channel exposed Yasin’s extremist views back in 2005:
So with Nadir Soofi and Elton Simpson’s attempts to silence speakers at Sunday’s event in Texas, perhaps Soofi’s funeral at ISGKC is appropriate.
UPDATE: In the “you can’t make this up” category, Kyle Shideler notes that Nadir Soofi “liked” Khalid Yasin on his Facebook page:
— Kyle Shideler (@ShidelerK) May 6, 2015
As online chatter about a Muhammad cartoon contest began to escalate last week, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a Joint Intelligence Bulletin last Thursday. The bulletin acknowledged the potential threat, but downplayed the possibility of any violence targeting the event.
The bulletin concluded that while the event could inspire violence abroad by contributing to terrorist messaging, it was “unlikely” that such violence would happen in the United States.
A copy of the FBI/DHS bulletin is provided exclusively by PJ Media below.
On Sunday night, two men – Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, roommates from Phoenix — did in fact show up at the event location in Garland, Texas, armed with semi-automatic weapons and body armor. Both were quickly killed in an exchange of gunfire before there was any direct threat to anyone inside the facility. One police officer was shot in the ankle — he was treated at the hospital and later released.
According to sources involved in the investigation into the terror attack and law enforcement preparations leading up to last Sunday’s event, there was virtually no online chatter about the cartoon contest until early last week.
The chatter began when news broke that two Muslim congressmen, Keith Ellison and Andre Carson, had appealed to Secretary of State John Kerry to deny entry into the U.S. for Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders.
Wilders was scheduled to be the featured speaker at Sunday’s cartoon contest.
One law enforcement source who was monitoring potential threats to the event told PJ Media the following:
[Ellison and Carson] clearly set things off. Nothing was being said until that news story came out, and then the usual suspects began to talk about it. By the time the weekend rolled around, there were clear and identifiable incitements calling for an attack on the event.
During this crescendo of online chatter, an FBI/DHS bulletin titled “‘Muhammad Art Exhibit & Contest’ in Texas on 3 May Likely to Prompt Violent Extremist Reaction Abroad; Violence Less Likely at Home” was sent out to law enforcement agencies four days before the event was held.
The bulletin initially acknowledges a potential threat existed following the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January and the attack on an event where a Muhammad cartoonist appeared in Copenhagen in February:
On 3 May 2015 the “American Freedom Defense InitiativeUSPER” (AFDI) is sponsoring in Garland, Texas a “Muhammad Art Exhibit & Contest,” for the stated purpose of “defend[ing] free speech and not give[ing] in to violent intimidation.” The FBI and DHS assess this motivation refers to deadly violent extremist attacks over recent months on institutions or events perceived as defaming the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. Although there is no specific, credible intelligence concerning threats to the event thus far, we assess that this event carries the risk of being targeted by violent extremists because past events involving the alleged defamation of Islam and the prophet, Muhammad, have resulted in threats or overt acts of violence overseas, to include threats against both artists and publishers.
But by the end of the FBI/DHS analysis, they conclude that since such attacks had not happened here yet, they were unlikely to now:
Although past events involving the alleged defamation of Islam and the prophet, Muhammad, have resulted in threats or overt acts of violence overseas, we have not yet seen such violence in the United States. The most frequent reaction among US-based homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) is discussion and verbal disapproval via online communication platforms, including websites with violent extremist content and social media sites.† We assess it is unlikely that any one event perceived to defame Islam would alone mobilize HVEs to violence; however, such events are incorporated into violent extremist messaging and narratives involving Western persecution of Muslims, which we do assess overall to contribute to radicalization to violence.‡ US-based HVEs remain largely unconnected to each other, and their behaviors are often highly individualized, impeding our ability to predict their reactions with a great deal of confidence. We also judge US-based HVEs and violent extremists in other Western nations who are skilled in information technology have the capability to carry out a cyber-intrusion attack against organizations or individuals perceived to be defaming Islam.
On Sunday night, that analysis proved to be wrong.
The bulletin concluded with a list of suspicious activities, which they warn could still be “constitutionally protected.”
A source I spoke to last night suggested that the conventional wisdom of federal law enforcement and homeland security agencies on the nature of the domestic terror threat is reminiscent of a pre-9/11 mentality:
These agencies are stuck in a belief that domestic terrorism is something that happens “over there” and that will never come here. They get reinforced by our media and academics who tell them that jihadist terror in Europe is something that only happens because of alienation and poverty — not realizing how dramatically things have changed over the past few years. Where we used to see individuals and small groups traveling overseas to fight with terrorists, virtually every Western country, including the U.S., now have hundreds who have joined the jihad in Syria and Iraq.
This bulletin they put out last week is an example of how analysis and threat assessment gets done. Rather than looking at what happened in Paris and Copenhagen and determining that the threat was escalating, they rely on preformed biases to spin the facts to fit their narrative to conclude there was no threat. My concern is that they are now going to look at what happened [Sunday night] and determine that it was a random one-off event rather than a warning sign of what’s quickly headed our way.
According to those close to the investigation, the real heroes who quickly eliminated the threat on Sunday were the Texas Department of Public Safety, who took the online threats seriously. The threats included inciting tweets from known foreign Islamic State operatives overseas (namely, IS cybercaliphate chief Junaid Hussain), leading them to deploy a “massive” presence at the cartoon contest event.
The response from the FBI and DHS following yet another intelligence failure remains to be seen.
Texas Attack Is Yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorism, Suspect ID’d as Elton Simpson of Phoenix
BE SURE TO SEE UPDATES BELOW. 2nd shooter identified as Nadir Soofi, see UPDATE #3
The name of one of the suspects in last night’s shootout outside a Dallas-area free speech event has been released.
ABC News 13 in Phoenix has ID’d Elton Simpson as the individual who posted a message with #texasattack to his Twitter account just before the shooting.
A controversial cartoon contest in north Texas yesterday depicting the prophet Mohammed ended in deadly gunfire.
ABC News can confirm that one of the suspects is Elton Simpson, an Arizona man who was previously the subject of a terror investigation. He’s from Phoenix and television stations in Phoenix are reporting the second shooter was Simpson’s roommate. We’re still waiting on his name.
The FBI believes Simpson sent out a tweet using the hashtag #texasattack about a half hour before shooting.
ABC News adds that police have been executing search warrants at Simpson’s home in Phoenix overnight.
It appears that this attack is yet another case of what I have termed “known wolf” syndrome, when the suspect is already known to law enforcement and intelligence. Virtually every terror attack in the West over the past year has been by one of these “known wolf” suspects.
The Dallas Morning News reports:
Simpson was well known to the FBI, ABC News reported. Five years ago he was convicted for lying to federal agents about his plans to travel to Africa, “but a judge ruled the government did not adequately prove he was going to join a terror group there.”
Simpson was apparently known to the FBI since 2006:
— Harriet Alexander (@h_alexander) May 4, 2015
On January 13, 2010, a grand jury indicted Defendant Elton Simpson for knowingly and willfully making a materially false statement to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”). The indictment also charged that the statement involved international and domestic terrorism. The indictment specified that on or about January 7, 2010, the Defendant falsely stated to special agents of the FBI that he had not discussed traveling to Somalia, when in fact he had discussed with others traveling to Somalia for the purpose of engaging in violent jihad. The Government is charging Mr. Simpson with making a false statement in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1001. The Government is also charging that the false statement involves international or domestic terrorism as defined under section 2331, so that he is eligible for a sentence enhancement pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §1001. [...]
… The problem … is that the Government has not established with the requisite level of proof, that the Defendant’s potential travel to Somalia (and his false statement about his discussions regarding his travels) was sufficiently “related” to international terrorism. Rather, the Government missed several steps to meeting its burden for establishing this charge. As a result, the Court cannot find the Defendant eligible for the sentence enhancement.
According to ABC News, Simpson was convicted of lying to the FBI, but was placed on probation and never went to prison.
I’ve been chronicling these recent “Known Wolf” terrorism cases here at PJ Media:
Dec. 15, 2014: Sydney Hostage Taker Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome
This was also the subject of a Capitol Hill briefing I gave back in late January sponsored by the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET):
4:30a OK it’s been 8+ hours and we still don’t have IDs on the suspects. Police probably waiting until later this morning. So with that, I’ll close out this live blog with one last hot take:
It's only freedom of speech when it's against Muslims. But when a Muslim opens his/her mouth it's world war 3. #garlandshooting
— Moe (@_DareToJuve) May 4, 2015
4:24a Some more smart takes
I don't even believe that the guys who did #garlandshooting are muslims. But people are so ready to believe that already. Bigoted minds!
— Çiğdem Akkaya (@ciigdemakkaya) May 4, 2015
Some illiterates don't know that offending is not "Free speech", Such ppl belongs to Jungle like those of terrorists. #garlandshooting
— Imran Khan (@Imrankhan707) May 4, 2015
Plot twist: This was all planned to condemn Muslims.. #garlandshooting
— Mohistan Zaffar (@MohistanZaffar) May 4, 2015
The #garlandshooting we're gonna find out probably was not a Muslim. Or someone mentally ill. Or someone souped up by a plant.
— Umar Lee (@STLAbuBadu) May 4, 2015
Not to downplay the tragedy of the #garlandshooting but it just seems a bit too convenient that someone happenend along and opened fire.
— Shea Sundstøl (@ssundstoel) May 4, 2015
Very rational question non Muslims are drawing a Muslim prophet? Why? Who are you working for? Your purpose is clear! #garlandshooting
— Al-Faisal™ (@stopjusthere) May 4, 2015
4:17a Cambridge, MA
— Charlene Smith (@WriterPhotograp) May 4, 2015
4:09a Here was the update from the Garland PD earlier:
Several law enforcement agencies, including SWAT and bomb squad officers from multiple local departments, DPS, FBI, and others, continue to investigate the shooting incident outside the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland. Around the end of an event at the center (7PM), two males drove up to the front of the building and opened fire on a Garland ISD security officer. Garland PD officers returned fire, shot and killed both of the men. The Garland ISD security officer suffered non life threatening gunshot injuries and has already been released from the hospital. Police suspect the suspect vehicle may contain an incendiary device. This has prompted bomb squad response from Plano and other agencies. At this hour, police, bomb squad officers and robots continue to investigate the suspect vehicle. Businesses and streets in the immediate area have been closed. Tonight’s event was a “Draw the Prophet” Muhammad art exhibit. The winning cartoonist would receive a $10,000 prize. As mentioned earlier in this post, the shooting occurred near end of that event. As also reported, tonight’s event was at the Curtis Culwell Center, the same location as a “Stand with the Prophet” event earlier this year in January.
*Garland PD requests that people avoid this area until further notice as the investigation continues.*
3;50a Some UK media rolling in now
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) May 4, 2015
— The Independent (@Independent) May 4, 2015
3:46a Canadian “anti-extremist”
— Mubin Shaikh (@CaliphateCop) May 4, 2015
— David Goins (@dgoins) May 4, 2015
3:24a Holy cow
3:17a There’s no keeping up with all the stupid on social media tonight.
#GarlandShooting lasted only 15sec.. You think fucking Nostradamus works for Garland PD? Just happened to have guns on these dudes? Staged.
— Ben (@exis10tial) May 4, 2015
— Mavra Zehra (@MavraZehra) May 4, 2015
Geller holds her little fascist event hyping up rednecks in #garlandshooting two dudes shoot a school guard in the ankle and get killed
— Umar Lee (@STLAbuBadu) May 4, 2015
May Allah swt unite the 2 bros along with Prophet saws. Forgive & accept them in Jannah. A beautiful way to leave duniya! #garlandshooting
— Hussain (@hussain_hindi) May 4, 2015
2:51a Here is Tom Trento’s video report from the event, when ~1:19:14 they first learn of the shooting; ~1:29:00 is when security enters and announces shots fired outside and move the audience to a secure room.
2:46a Wisdom from an “aspiring political journalist”
Im sorry but with the event of the Charlie Hebdo cartoon fiasco, who in their right mind joins an 'art event' like this?! #garlandshooting
— Habibah Amin (@Habibah_Amin) May 4, 2015
— Mujahid Miski (@LoveHoor_______) May 4, 2015
How can anyone organize a Muhammad art gallery (< 5 months after Charlie Hebdo massacre) & claim not to desire a bloodbath? #garlandshooting
— Chidike Okeem (@VOICEOFCHID) May 4, 2015
— Raimo Kangasniemi (@rk70534) May 4, 2015
— corinnejrodriguez (@TierraFilmsNM) May 4, 2015
2:22a Newsweek correspondent calls Geert Wilders an “agent provocateur”
— Margot Kiser (@earthscorcher1) May 4, 2015
Freedom of expression doesn't mean insulting someone's faith. To some people, it's an act against their own existence. #garlandshooting
— Abdulrahman Al-Turki (@alturkian) May 4, 2015
#garlandshooting in a way .. One can say they asked for it? .. Why pull the trigger if you cant handle the consequences
2:13a Hats off to you, sir, and a speedy recovery
— Sugarcane (@5ugarcane) May 4, 2015
The pig that got pegged during the #garlandshooting was most likely racist and Islamophobic.
— Cien Fuegos Carmona (@cienfuegoscrmna) May 4, 2015
— Barbara Bianconi (@barbarabianconi) May 4, 2015
2:06a Media smart takes, oddly both from NYTimes
— Benjamin Weingarten (@bhweingarten) May 4, 2015
— sofarsoshawn (@sofarsoshawn) May 4, 2015
2:04a Director of Duke University’s Islamic Studies Center ==>
— omid safi (@ostadjaan) May 4, 2015
1:46a More smart takes
Who is more criminal, a terrorist? or the ''free speech' advocates who creates and instigates them through hate speech? #garlandshooting
— Shyikh Mahdi (@ShyikhMahdi) May 4, 2015
It's saf how these RW extremists don't even realize how similar they r to the terrorists they hate. #GarlandShooting
— Tina (@trcfwtt) May 4, 2015
Freedom of speech isn't being threatened. Never was. So why hold the event at all? Because they're islamophobes. #garlandshooting
— Ken Ashford (@KenAshford) May 4, 2015
BOTH parties were wrong #garlandshooting
— Sophia (@StarryNight96) May 4, 2015
The targets of the #garlandshooting deserve retribution for inciting hatred. How's that for free speech?
— Simon McLean (@simonsmclean) May 4, 2015
I hope Ms Geller is LOCKED UP for inciting violence! #Garlandshooting
— Stephen Ford (@darreth01) May 4, 2015
Hate and stupidity at its very finest on both ends of the conflict #garlandshooting
— Tim Ahmed (@TheTimAhmed) May 4, 2015
1:42a Event attendees are apparently being let out
— Jobin Panicker (@jobinpnews) May 4, 2015
1:39a More smart takes
— Stop The Wars (@sickjew) May 4, 2015
— Stop The Wars (@sickjew) May 4, 2015
1:37a Smart take from “liberal arts major”
Killed. No thought. No trial. No investigation. Not innocent until proven guilty. What the hell am I living here for? #garlandshooting
— Yvette Ramirez (@DadaIsGalletas) May 4, 2015
1:33a Some good coverage from Twitchy
NYT reporter wonders why anyone would hold a 'Muhammad drawing contest' http://t.co/CHs0KGL0Mc
— TwitchyTeam (@TwitchyTeam) May 4, 2015
Flashback: Dems, CAIR wanted to keep Geert Wilders' 'hateful speech' out of the U.S. http://t.co/1i6m9aNTYd
— TwitchyTeam (@TwitchyTeam) May 4, 2015
Tweeters bring the hate after shooting at Muhammad art contest in Texas http://t.co/KzpAQuC1An
— TwitchyTeam (@TwitchyTeam) May 4, 2015
1:31a The conspiracy-mongering has begun:
How convenient that something happened to justify an anti Islam event. #garlandshooting
— My Surname is Khan (@ejaz_k) May 4, 2015
1:25a Geert Wilders with the security team at the event tonight
— Bob Owens (@bob_owens) May 4, 2015
Shots fired at Garland Mohammed cartoon free speech event. I just left the building after speeching. #garlandshooting
— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) May 4, 2015
— Objectivist Cat (@ObjectivistCat) May 4, 2015
Garland PD says one blast down, but chance they may send out more electronic pulses
— Zahid Arab (@ZahidArabFox4) May 4, 2015
Just heard a loud boom – was told the FBI bomb squad here in Garland detonated a device. No word if any explosives were found in the car.
— Brian New (@BrianNewCBS) May 4, 2015
12:42a Gov Abbott’s statement:
— Sarah Rumpf (@rumpfshaker) May 4, 2015
12:39a Apparently from someone on the scene
FBI to send out an electronic pulse near Culwell center that will activate anything that sends it receives an electronic transmission
— Zahid Arab (@ZahidArabFox4) May 4, 2015
Police are telling us to sit in our cars for our safety
— Zahid Arab (@ZahidArabFox4) May 4, 2015
We're told If you're in this area… Turn off anything that uses a remote control. Powering off cell phones might be a good idea too
— Zahid Arab (@ZahidArabFox4) May 4, 2015
Police just asked me to stand behind a tree for the next few minutes. There could be an explosion. pic.twitter.com/bOo9M2SI5x
— Gabriel Roxas (@cbs11gabriel) May 4, 2015
12:32a Some context on tonight’s terror attack
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) May 4, 2015
12:22a Print media starting to pick up the story
2 Killed in Texas After Firing on Anti-Islamist Group’s Event http://t.co/QGX0bdmpem
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 4, 2015
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) May 4, 2015
Here’s the link to my article on Friday about Geert Wilders’ appearance on Capitol Hill this past week.
12:15a Local officials say that they were prepared for something like this
‘We were prepared for something like this,’ police spokesman says of shooting at ‘Muhammad Art Exhibit.’ http://t.co/GIeHBzP3QT
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) May 4, 2015
— Sarah Rumpf (@rumpfshaker) May 4, 2015
#garlandshooting Police say the FAILED attack only lasted a few seconds. Take note terrorists! Your life expectancy in Texas is very short
— RW Andrews (@AuthorRWAndrews) May 4, 2015
12:02a Fox is reporting the officer has been treated and released
UPDATE: Garland Independent School District says wounded officer was shot in ankle, treated and released from hospital #garlandshooting
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 4, 2015
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) May 4, 2015
Allahu Akbar, And the brothers did it. May Allaah accept you among the Shuhadas and Grant you jannat ul ferdous. ☝ pic.twitter.com/DYzOGkuXSX
— Kufr Bit- Tāghūt ☝ (@servantjihadi14) May 4, 2015
11:53p Here is reportedly the last tweet from one of the shooters:
ORIGINAL POST: A free speech event featuring controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders was interrupted by two gunmen who reportedly opened fire outside the center where a Muhammad Art Exhibit was being held.
CBS Dallas is reporting that two gunmen were killed and a police officer was also shot.
I just spoke with Tom Trento of The United West who was in the building. He said that Wilders had just left the event, and that if the gunmen had showed up 20 minutes later many more would have been killed.
Trento is doing live video updates on his Facebook page.
— Pamela Geller (@PamelaGeller) May 4, 2015
— Rita Katz (@Rita_Katz) May 4, 2015
I will be live blogging here for the time being. Ed Driscoll has an article up here with some background.
Muslim Congressmen Exhibit Outrageous Hypocrisy in Trying to Ban Dutch Politician Geert Wilders from U.S.
Last week, two Muslim members of Congress, Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Andre Carson (D-IN), sent a letter to the State Department requesting that they deny a visa to Dutch politician Geert Wilders. Wilders was coming to Washington, D.C. for a Capitol Hill event sponsored by Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Steve King (R-IA).
Unsuccessful in their attempts to have Wilders banned, Ellison, Carson and their associates from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) tried to disrupt a press conference on free speech with Wilders, Gohmert, and King in front of the U.S. Capitol yesterday. Ellison promoted their actions on Twitter:
— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) April 30, 2015
— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) April 30, 2015
Leave aside the spurious legal reasoning they employed to try to deny Wilders a visa, aptly refuted by UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, and that their attempts to tie Wilders to Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik had been thoroughly debunked by none other than Breivik himself. What makes the pair’s anti-free speech behavior so outrageously hypocritical is that they both have stood silent as the Obama administration has allowed a long line of extremists, and even members of terrorist organizations, to enter the United States.
Even worse, the two Muslim congressmen have regularly promoted and associated with organizations that have been designated as terrorist organizations, and individuals and groups that have been tagged in federal court by the Justice Department.
For instance, in May 2012 a member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad (still a designated terrorist organization), Hani Nour Eldin, was allowed to enter the U.S. and was even escorted into the White House for a private meeting with Obama’s national security staff. Ellison and Carson didn’t utter a word in protest.
Nor did they express the slightest concern when members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood were given VIP treatment typically reserved for visiting dignitaries at JFK Airport.
When Sudanese genocide henchman Nafie Ali Nafie (aka “Nafie the Butcher”) was given a visa by the State Department in 2013, the Muslim congressmen again were mute.
And nothing was said when Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano testified before Congress in July 2012 that she would allow more members of terrorist organizations into the country.
Their voice was also absent following the news last year that the Clinton State Department maintained a terrorist “hands-off” list for entry into the U.S., revealed by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), or as Homeland Security continued to stonewall congressional requests for information on such terrorist “hands-off” lists.
So Ellison and Carson have deemed Geert Wilders, who has been subject to repeated threats from Islamic terror organizations and has had to live with 24/7 security for more than a decade, a greater threat than members of terrorist groups, genocidal henchmen, and Islamic extremists.
That glaring silence might be telling of where their sympathies really lie, if it weren’t for their open and unashamed support of terrorist fronts and cheerleaders. As I reported here at PJ Media late last December, Carson was scheduled to appear at the 2014 Muslim American Society (MAS)-Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) annual conference on a Ferguson panel with Mazen Mokhtar, an individual that federal agents had testified in federal court had operated an Al-Qaeda website to raise money for the Taliban.
Carson’s appearance at the MAS-ICNA event was not only promoted on the conference website, but also in the conference program:
A few days later, Carson tried to walk back his appearance at the conference, claiming he didn’t speak on the panel with Mokhtar. However, Carson never addressed the fact that the conference itself was Mohktar’s. (Mokhtar is currently executive directtor of the primary conference sponsor, MAS).
Yesterday the FBI in San Diego arrested Mohamad Saeed Kodaimati, a naturalized U.S. citizen since September 2008, for making false statements to U.S. Embassy officials, Customs and Border Protection and the FBI related to his time in Syria and Turkey over the past two years. Kodaimati left the U.S. in late December 2012 and returned on March 23.
According to the FBI affidavit in support of the criminal complaint filed today in the case against Kodaimati, the 24-year-old man was caught in a series of lies related to his work on behalf of a sharia court operated by Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria and a U.S. designated terrorist organization, and also his role mediating between Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS.
Ultimately, Kodaimati was tripped up by his posts to Facebook.
According to the FBI, he stated in a September 2013 private message on Facebook that he worked for the sharia court in Hanano near Aleppo. He would post media statements from the Nusra-operated sharia court to social media.
The FBI complaint also alleges that Kodaimati was a close associate with a senior ISIS operative in the area, with whom he mediated on behalf of others in the area to resolve conflicts between ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra. He also posted pictures to his Facebook account (now removed) of him with another known ISIS operative.
In his Facebook communications, he also recounted how he, his father and his brother fought with Jabhat al-Nusra against the Assad regime for four months.
He was initially questioned at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, on March 10 and 11. He was later questioned about his activities in Syria by Customs and Border Patrol upon his reentry to the U.S. at the airport in Charlotte, NC, on March 23, and later by the FBI in Charlotte on March 25. After being questioned at his home in San Diego yesterday, he was taken into custody.
Here’s the FBI complaint:
News reports this morning indicate that France averted a major terror attack in Paris over the weekend after the suspect inadvertently shot himself in the leg. Police discovered plans in the suspect’s car to attack churchgoers leaving church on Sunday.
The unnamed suspect was already known to French intelligence agencies and had previously been subject to police surveillance, making this yet another case of what I have termed “known wolf” terrorism. [The suspect has now been identified as Sid Ahmed Ghlam. See update below.]
The New York Times reports:
A 24-year-old computer science student suspected of planning an imminent attack on at least one church and of involvement in the murder of a woman was taken into custody in Paris over the weekend, the French authorities said on Wednesday.
The student was arrested on Sunday, and the police found heavy weapons, handguns, ammunition and bulletproof vests in his home and car, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said at a news conference on Wednesday.
Mr. Cazeneuve did not identify the student, nor the church or churches that he was believed to be targeting.
“Detailed documents were also found, establishing without any doubt that the individual was planning an imminent attack, most likely against one or two churches,” Mr. Cazeneuve said. “That attack was avoided on Sunday morning.”
Le Monde said the man had settled in France in 2009. Cazeneuve said he had been under surveillance since 2014 when he made it known he wished to go to Syria to join jihadis there. He disappeared in February this year and was found to have spent a week in Turkey. He was arrested, briefly held, and given a warning on his return, but his profile was not thought to justify further action beyond circulating a security warning.
“Our country, like other European countries, is facing a terrorist threat that is unusual in its nature and size. Our vigilance and our determination are absolute and constant,” the minister added.
Events just of the past month have shown that their vigilance is far from “absolute and constant.” As I reported here at PJ Media back in January, the Kouachi brothers — who massacred 11 people and wounded another 11 in an attack on the satirical Charlie Hebdo newspaper — were already known to French authorities.
Cherif Kouachi had been arrested and sentenced to prison back in 2005 for his role in helping send fighters to Iraq to attack coalition soldiers. At the time of the attack, he was on both the U.S. and UK terror watch lists. It was later reported that Said Kouachi had been subject to surveillance orders since 2011 after he had returned from terror training in Yemen, but that the surveillance on Said had been stopped in June 2014 – just six months before the attack — because he was deemed to no longer be dangerous by security services. Similarly, surveillance had been stopped at the end of 2013 on Cherif because authorities believed he had disengaged from “violent extremism.”
As I I reported here in February, a man who stabbed three French police officers standing guard outside a synagogue in Nice had just been deported from Turkey to France a week before the attack because he was believed to be en route to join ISIS in Syria.
French authorities are not alone in these “known wolf” failures.
When I I first identified the “known wolf terrorism” phenomenon back in October, it was after two separate terror attacks in Canada in less than a week by two individuals already known to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Both had their passports revoked for fear they would leave the country for Syria to join terror groups there.
I noted at the time that virtually all of the American Islamic terror cases since 9/11 involved “known wolf” attackers.
Here’s my reporting on “known wolf terrorism” syndrome:
Dec. 15, 2014: Sydney Hostage Taker Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome
In January, I gave a briefing on Capitol Hill sponsored by the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) on “Known Wolf” terrorism:
In February, I conducted an interview with my friend and colleague Erick Stakelbeck on the phenomenon:
Even the New York Times picked up the term in March, if only to explain away the failures of law enforcement. The term was also used when London Mayor Boris Johnson slammed the UK Home Secretary for dropping surveillance orders on Mohammed Emwazi, who has been featured in ISIS videos beheading Western prisoners.
Even well-paid U.S. terrorism consultants are trying to cash in by suddenly discovering the “known wolf” terrorism problem:
The Soufan Group, a New York think tank, said a better term for “lone wolves” would be “known wolves”, given how many are already known to Western intelligence agencies before they strike.
“These individuals, acting alone or in small groups … have been on the radar of various agencies and organisations, highlighting the difficulty of effectively monitoring and managing people at the nexus of criminality and terrorism,” it said in a report this week.
For the Soufan Group, the most serious threat came from people with known associations with radicals and a string of past offenses.
What makes these many instances of “known wolf” terrorism so tragic is that it is never a case of the subject falling off the radar of authorities or escaping surveillance. In each and every case, they have either been deliberately removed from the radar after mistakenly being judged as not a threat, or, more amazingly, authorities were aware of the threat yet did nothing out of indifference or incompetence.
As the case in Paris on Sunday shows, we can expect the “known wolf” terror problem by Western intelligence and law enforcement authorities to continue.
UPDATE: The suspect has been identified as Sid Ahmed Ghlam.
The Local has more information on his background and previous contacts with French authorities.
Further searches of his student lodgings in the 13th arrondissement unearthed several more automatic weapons, described as a “real arsenal of military weapons” according to French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.
Cazeneuve said evidence on his Facebook account suggested he was planning to target “one or two churches” in the Villejuif suburb to the south of Paris on that Sunday.
French prosecutor François Mollins said on Wednesday that Al Qaeda and Isis documents were also found in his flat and that he was in contact with an individual in Syria who is believed to have instructed him to attack churches.
The suspect was born in Algeria but came to France in 2009 to join up with other members of his family who were already in the country.
The suspect was a student from 2010 to 2012 at the IT college SUPINFO in Paris where an unnamed source told the French daily Le Figaro that he came across as a normal student.
French authorities deemed him not dangerous enough to open a judicial case against him, even though he was implicated in a violent attack two years ago:
Cazeneuve said that intelligence services were aware of the individual and had placed him under surveillance for several months in 2014 and 2015.
However according to reports the suspect did nothing to raise their suspicions or to prompt counter-terror police to open a case against him.
Whilst he is reported to have spent a week in Turkey, he is not believed to have followed the route of many jihadists by crossing into Syria.
No links were established between him and established networks that help jihadists reach Syria. However the DGSI did create a special file on the subject titled “S” meaning “state security”, so if any authority checked his identity they would know he had been surveyed and the level of danger he was ranked at.
He came to their attention after expressing his desire to fight alongside jihadists in Syria. Some members of his family and his partner have also been taken into custody for questioning, including his sister who was reportedly recently radicalised.
He was also known to the police after being implicated in a violent attack two years ago.
Reports indicate he planned an attack on the Catholic church of Saint-Cyr Sainte-Julitte in Villejuif. Ghlam is also being investigated in the murder of a 32-year-old Aurélie Châtelain, mother of a 5-year-old girl, who authorities believe was shot as Ghlam attempted to steal her car on Sunday morning.
An Ohio man indicted by a federal grand jury on terrorism support charges last week, Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, was questioned by the FBI two days after becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen.
During that questioning, he was caught lying about his identity.
Several days later, Mohamud applied for a U.S. passport and was allowed to travel to Syria. There, he fought and trained with Jabhat al-Nusra — an official al-Qaeda affiliate — and then was allowed to return to the U.S. where he planned to launch terror attacks inside the U.S.
These remarkable revelations of FBI failure emerged from documents unsealed by the federal court and from last week’s indictment.
According to the indictment (p.2), Mohamud became a naturalized U.S. citizen on February 18 last year, and applied for a U.S. passport a week later:
On or about February 18, 2014, MOHAMUD became a naturalized U.S. citizen. On or about February 25, 2014, MOHAMUD submitted his U.S. passport application.
But as the Wall Street Journal reports today, the FBI interviewed Mohamud on Feb. 20th — two days after his naturalization ceremony — during which FBI agents caught him lying about his identity:
The FBI first spoke to Mr. Mohamud more than a year ago, but that intervention didn’t appear to prevent the native of Somalia from traveling overseas. During the Feb. 20, 2014, interview, federal agents said Mr. Mohamud tried to lie about his identity. He first told investigators he was his older brother, Abdifatah Aden, who had already left the U.S. in 2013 and was believed to be fighting in Syria on behalf of Nusra Front and raising money for the cause, according to court documents.
“When challenged about his truthfulness, he admitted his true identity,” Mr. Flowers of the FBI wrote in a court affidavit. It wasn’t clear from court documents how agents reacted to Mr. Mohamud’s reversal.
And yet, Mohamud was allowed to obtain a U.S. passport and travel to Turkey six weeks later, where he joined up with terror operatives after crossing the border into Syria.
After Mohamud returned to the U.S. last June, the newly unsealed court documents claim that he then began weapons training with others in the Columbus area. The Wall Street Journal article continues:
Three months after he returned from training with violent extremists in Syria, a 23-year-old Ohio man hosted a shooting group at a local gun range, federal authorities allege in newly unsealed court papers.
Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud rented a shooting lane in the Columbus area last September, court papers say. When a range officer offered to instruct him and his two associates how to use their borrowed pistol, Mr. Mohamud allegedly declined, implying he could teach the others.
“Organizing weapons training is consistent with individuals who previously obtained training from … training camps to, upon return to their homeland, seek to recruit a group of young male adults in order to lead them to be like-minded jihadist believers prepared to fight,” Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Stephen Flowers wrote in court documents.
For eight months until his arrest in late February this year, Mohamud was allowed to roam freely within the U.S. and train others in handling firearms.
Here is a timeline of events:
Feb. 18, 2014: Mohamud becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Feb. 20, 2014: The FBI interviews Mohamud, during which time he is caught lying about his identity. The same day he communicates with his brother already in Syria about his travel plans to join him.
Feb. 25, 2014: Mohamud applies for a U.S. passport.
April 8, 2014: He purchases a one-way airline ticket with a stopover in Istanbul, Turkey.
April 18, 2014: He departs the U.S. and arrives in Turkey the following day.
June 3, 2014: His older brother, Aden, is reported killed fighting in Syria.
June 8, 2014: He returns to the U.S.
Approx. Sept 2014: He trains others in handling weapons at a Columbus firing range.
Feb. 25, 2015: Mohamud is arrested on state terrorism support charges.
April 16, 2015: He is indicted by a federal grand jury.
Even with an FBI informant among Mohamud’s associates, it would be hard to paint this as the Bureau’s finest hour. As I noted here at PJ Media last week, the FBI has been less than forthcoming to the public about the scope of the threat of U.S. persons who have traveled to fight in Syria and the number of those who have returned.
As additional details become available, it may become even more clear how the FBI botched the handling of this potential threat.
For more than a year, U.S. officials have been warning of the potential terror blowback from Americans who have fought in Syria. Senior counter-terrorism officials have repeatedly claimed that more than 100 individuals have traveled from the U.S. to fight with terror groups in Syria and Iraq.
However, FBI Director James Comey began to walk those claims back in late September and early October — just weeks before the November mid-term elections.
In an interview with 60 Minutes, he claimed that “roughly a dozen” U.S. persons were fighting with extremist groups in Syria.
That was a marked change from his own comments in May, when his own figures were considerably higher:
Comey declined to give a precise figure for Americans believed to be involved in the Syrian struggle but said the numbers are “getting worse.”
“I said dozens last time,” said Comey, referring to an interview with reporters four months ago. “It’s still dozens, just a couple more dozen.”
A senior U.S. counterterrorism official estimated this year that 60 to 70 Americans have traveled to fight in Syria. Comey said that Americans in Syria are actively recruiting other Americans to join the fight.
Several dozen in May 2014 is still considerably more than “roughly a dozen” just a few months later.
An Associated Press article allowed Comey to explain his walk-back on his own numbers:
“When I use a number of more than 100, that means people who have gone and come back, people who have attempted to go and we locked them up, people who have gone and stayed,” Comey said during an interview with reporters at FBI headquarters. “The figure that I’ve been operating with is, ballparkish, a dozen still there fighting with terrorist groups.”
The AP reporters deemed the 100-plus Americans fighting in Syria claim that had been repeated by a number of U.S. senior officials — including Comey himself — as having reached “urban legend status.”
But once America was past the mid-term elections, the stated numbers provided by senior officials quickly soared.
In early March, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper claimed that 180 U.S. persons had traveled to Syria. More remarkably, he claimed that 40 such individuals had already returned to the United States.
According to Reuters, Clapper also said that he was not aware of any plots that anyone who had returned from Syria had been involved in. However, Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud had already been arrested on state terror charges at the request of the FBI a week before Clapper made his comments.
A horrific story coming out of Sicily.
Muslims who were among migrants trying to get from Libya to Italy in a boat this week threw 12 fellow passengers overboard — killing them — because the 12 were Christians, Italian police said Thursday.
Italian authorities have arrested 15 people on suspicion of murdering the Christians at sea, police in Palermo, Sicily, said.
The original group of 105 people left Libya on Tuesday in a rubber boat. Sometime during the trip north across the Mediterranean Sea, the alleged assailants — Muslims from the Ivory Coast, Mali and Senegal — threw the 12 overboard, police said.
The Associated Press adds:
During the crossing, the migrants from Nigeria and Ghana — believed to be Christians — were threatened with being abandoned at sea by some 15 other passengers from the Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mali and Guinea Bissau.
Eventually the threat was carried out and 12 were pushed overboard. The statement said the motive was that the victims “professed the Christian faith while the aggressors were Muslim.”
The surviving Christians, the statement said, only managed to stay on board by forming a “human chain” to resist the assault.
Interestingly, the CNN video appears to have been pulled from their website.
One of the top cheerleaders for the migrants crossing from Libya has been Pope Francis, who issued a communique back in September on the migration issue and has said that the EU needs to do more for the migrants, saying “we cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast graveyard.”
One of the most closely guarded secrets in Washington, D.C. about U.S. involvement in the Syrian war is that the “moderate” rebels whom the Obama administration (and many Republicans) backed were closely aligned with al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra. They were also, at times, aligned with the Islamic State.
For regular PJ Media readers, this will come as no surprise. I’ve repeatedly documented the ties between the State Department’s “vetted moderate” rebel groups and designated terrorist groups based on snippets of reporting that challenged the administration’s official narrative.
But now the “moderate” rebels are on their heels and in retreat from internecine pressure from Jabhat al-Nusra. Brookings Institute-Doha Syria analyst Charles Lister — who has probably had as much direct contact with “rebel” leaders as any other U.S. analyst — has finally admitted to the long-time cooperation between “moderates” and “extremists.”
In an article published last month on the Brookings website, Lister states:
This latter alliance with Jabhat al-Nusra has been a consistent facet of insurgent dynamics in Syria, but not only in terms of conservative Salafist groups like Ahrar al-Sham. In fact, while rarely acknowledged explicitly in public, the vast majority of the Syrian insurgency has coordinated closely with Al-Qaeda since mid-2012 – and to great effect on the battlefield. But while this pragmatic management of relationships may have secured opposition military victories against the regime, it has also come at an extraordinary cost. The assimilation of Al-Qaeda into the broader insurgency has discouraged the U.S. and its European allies from more definitively backing the ‘moderate’ opposition. That, by extension, has encouraged the intractability of the conflict we see today and the rise of jihadist factions like Jabhat al-Nusra, IS, and many others.
A year-and-a-half ago, uttering this outside of the polite company of the D.C. foreign policy “smart set” would have gotten you branded a heretic.
The official narrative of the administration and the McCain/Graham “war at any cost” wing of the GOP was that the vast majority of rebels were moderate, as expressed in John Kerry’s testimony before McCain’s committee in September 2013. Such deep and complex truths were unworthy of the unwashed American masses at a time when many in D.C. were openly calling for more heavy weapons to be sent to the “vetted moderate” rebels.
But with the sudden surge of ISIS last June and the announcement of the re-establishment of the Islamic State, the narrative was getting harder to publicly maintain — even as the Obama administration did in fact begin sending heavy weaponry to the “vetted moderate” rebels.
The “smart set” then began to drop hints that the “vetted moderate” rebels were not so moderate after all, but certainly nothing so candid to give the whole game away. Lister notes that the rebel cooperation with Jabhat al-Nusra going back to mid-2012 (Nusra announced its formation in January 2012) was “rarely acknowledged explicitly in public.”
Now with things going very badly in Syria and Iraq, the “smart set” is divided between walking back their support for the rebels, or doubling-down on their support by saying the U.S. needs to begin backing “moderate al-Qaeda”.
The media has been more forthcoming about our “vetted moderate” allies since American reporters began losing their heads under Islamic State knives.
In late October, American journalist Theo Padnos — who was captured by the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) and then given over to Jabhat al-Nusra — told the story of his two-year captivity in the New York Times Magazine. At one point, Padnos says he escaped from his Al-Qaeda captors and found himself back in the hands of the FSA, who then, again, promptly turned him back over to the terror group.
Padnos also relates this exchange with some U.S.-trained FSA fighters that exposes the glaring weaknesses of the CIA’s vetting system:
I returned to the FSA troops. One told me that his unit had recently traveled to Jordan to receive training from American forces in fighting groups like the Nusra Front.
“Really?” I said. “The Americans? I hope it was good training.”
“Certainly, very,” he replied.
The fighters stared at me. I stared at them.
After a few moments, I asked, “About this business of fighting Jebhat al Nusra?”
“Oh, that,” one said. “We lied to the Americans about that.”
The treatment of Padnos by the FSA is important to recall in light of the revelations yesterday and today that that an NBC News crew taken captive in Syria in December 2012, and who later repeatedly claimed they had been held by an Assad regime militia, now admit – following a New York Times investigation – that they were in fact held by an FSA criminal network.
Also, there is evidence that NBC News executives knew from the time of the crew’s capture that they were held by U.S. allies, but allowed the blame to fall on Assad since that didn’t conflict with the Obama administration’s position at the time.
An example of this newfound openness on the part of the establishment media was an Associated Press report in late November that noted the close cooperation of U.S.-backed rebels with al-Qaeda in southern Syria:
The gains are a contrast to northern Syria, where U.S.-backed rebels are collapsing in the face of an assault by Islamic militants. Notably, in the south, the rebels are working together with fighters from al-Qaeda’s Syria branch, whose battle-hardened militants have helped them gain the momentum against government forces. The cooperation points to the difficulty in American efforts to build up “moderate” factions while isolating extremists.
Over the past year I’ve reported at PJ Media on the slow cracks emerging in the official “vetted moderate rebel” narrative:
It’s refreshing to see the D.C. “smart set” and the establishment media finally ‘fessing up to what has been going on in Syria, “rarely acknowledged explicitly in public.” But the damage done by the Obama administration’s policy, (backed up by the McCain/Graham GOP chorus), such as the hundreds of thousands dead, is irreversible.
Who in D.C. or the media will be held to account for this failure?
BOMBSHELL: Afghan Colonel Was Paid $250,000 to Kill U.S. Air Force Personnel, Pentagon Cover-Up Ensued
A bombshell revelation has emerged about the incident responsible for the greatest U.S. Air Force loss of life during the War on Terror, the deadliest “green-on-blue” attack during U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.
On April 27, 2011, Afghan Air Force Colonel Ahmad Gul gunned down eight U.S. Air Force personnel and a civilian contractor inside the Afghan Air Force headquarters, including investigators who had just arrived in the country to examine rampant corruption in the Afghan military.
Multiple Air Force and CENTCOM investigations claimed to find no motive for the attack, leaving the families of those killed with no answers.
Now, a senior U.S. official has gone on the record claiming that a United Nations team tracked substantial payments to the killer and his family made days just prior to the incident.
These revelations appear in the season finale of For The Record, which airs tonight at 8:00 p.m. ET on The Blaze TV.
For the past year, I have worked as a consultant with the For The Record documentary investigative team looking into the Kabul airport massacre and the Pentagon’s handling of the matter. Last November, I appeared on an episode of the program noting that the Pentagon’s multiple explanations for the attack didn’t match their own forensics. Here’s a trailer for that For The Record episode, “Insider Attack”:
A follow-up report on the Pentagon’s handling of the spike in “green-on-blue” incidents appeared in January, after the killing of U.S. Army Major General Harold Greene in August last year. He is the highest-ranking U.S. official killed during the War on Terror. The report noted that U.S. personnel who warned of a potential escalation of insider attacks were punished by their superiors:
Tonight’s For The Record episode includes an interview with one of the top U.S. officials charged with combating illicit financing in Afghanistan. He reveals the payoffs made to Col. Ahmad Gul:
Sara Carter, senior investigative reporter for The Blaze, reported today on the stunning revelation that this official’s team tracked $250,000 in payments to the killer:
A final investigation by U.S. Central Command did find circumstantial evidence that Gul may have been involved in a criminal network, but that evidence was not pursued and a large portion of the investigation still remains classified, according to CENTCOM.
But a six-month investigation by For the Record suggests that Gul murdered the airmen at the behest of someone or a criminal network, according to numerous sources and military documents.
For the Record learned that a joint investigation conducted by then-U.S. Task Force 2010, charged at the time with tracing terror financing in Afghanistan and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, found that Gul had received a large deposit in a family bank account and that all of his debts were wiped clean just one week before the killings.
Thomas Creal, who served as the lead expert for Task Force 2010, investigated the killer’s finances and found evidence he says overwhelmingly points to Gul’s connection to criminal networks.
This report has never been made public.
“There was extensive corruption inside the Afghan military and investigations were cut short, hampered by ranking personnel at the State Department and military,” Creal said. “The insider killings don’t need to continue. We can take steps to mitigate these suicidal hits but we can’t do it if evidence is ignored.”
The Pentagon cover-up began almost immediately after the massacre, most likely to avoid embarrassing revelations of rampant corruption by our Afghan “allies.” The initial report had to be followed up by a second and third report after the lies in the first began to be challenged — including the first report’s claim that Gul had committed suicide after the attack, but was later found to have died from gunshot wounds to the chest from two different weapons.
Despite overwhelming evidence to the effect found in their own reports, the Pentagon claimed to find no conclusive evidence of Taliban involvement — even though the terror group immediately claimed credit for the attack.
This resulted in bizarre reporting on the Pentagon’s findings, such as an Air Force Times article entitled “Motive in Kabul shooting deaths remains elusive” that reported:
Witnesses told investigators that Gul became increasingly radical in his religious views in the years leading up to the shooting and was deeply angry at the U.S. invasion of his home country — even saying on more than one occasion that he “wanted to kill Americans”…
The Afghan shooter who smeared “God is one” in blood on the walls of the Afghan Air Force headquarters during the rampage a was a distinctly different man from several decades earlier.
According to testimony from those who knew Gul, in the late ‘80s, the Afghan native drank, liked to party and wasn’t terribly religious. But just a few years later, in about 1995, that changed when Gul started to follow the teachings of the Taliban.
He attended mosque for every prayer time and grew a beard. He also “developed an authoritarian approach when seeing other individuals that did not practice Islam to his liking,” according to one person who knew Gul at the time…
In 2006, Gul decided to move to Pakistan and started attending a local mosque, where he met an “unknown prominent figure” who is believed to have radicalized him. There were also rumors that Gul wanted to be a suicide bomber.
When Gul decided to move back to Afghanistan in 2008, people asked him why he would go back.
“[Gul] responded he ‘wanted to kill Americans,’” investigators said.
But the Pentagon concluded that his possible motive remained elusive.
The Islamic State has released a new 11-minute video called “We Will Burn America” that calls for supporters to attack the American homeland and promises another 9/11.
Here’s the full video — WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT:
At this juncture I would note the New York Times’ front page article on December 29 that described how America’s top war fighters, namely Special Operations Command, freely admit that they don’t understand the ideology driving ISIS and other Islamic terror groups:
WASHINGTON — Maj. Gen. Michael K. Nagata, commander of American Special Operations forces in the Middle East, sought help this summer in solving an urgent problem for the American military: What makes the Islamic State so dangerous?
Trying to decipher this complex enemy — a hybrid terrorist organization and a conventional army — is such a conundrum that General Nagata assembled an unofficial brain trust outside the traditional realms of expertise within the Pentagon, State Department and intelligence agencies, in search of fresh ideas and inspiration. Business professors, for example, are examining the Islamic State’s marketing and branding strategies.
“We do not understand the movement, and until we do, we are not going to defeat it,” he said, according to the confidential minutes of a conference call he held with the experts. “We have not defeated the idea. We do not even understand the idea.”
General Nagata’s frustration is shared by other American officials. Even as President Obama and his top civilian and military aides express growing confidence that Iraqi troops backed by allied airstrikes have blunted the Islamic State’s momentum on the ground in Iraq and undermined its base of support in Syria, other officials acknowledge they have barely made a dent in the larger, longer-term campaign to kill the ideology that animates the terrorist movement.
You can call in all the marketing executives and Harvard academics all you like, but when the Obama administration — meaning the entire U.S. government – as a matter of established policy refuses to acknowledge the ideology and intentions that our enemy publishes IN ENGLISH in the form of videos, audio recordings and magazines, and actively prohibits anyone in a government department or agency from discussing or speaking about said ideology, you really are beyond hope. And so is America.
A bizarre turn of events as a 20-year-old man who had previously been deemed by the FBI as “no imminent threat” was arrested today for planning to conduct a suicide bombing on the Fort Riley U.S. Army base.
According to a press release from the FBI Kansas City field office:
John T. Booker Jr., 20, of Topeka, Kansas, was charged in a criminal complaint unsealed today with one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives), one count of attempting to damage property by means of an explosive and one count of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Booker is expected to make an initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree of the District of Kansas in federal court in Topeka.
Booker was arrested this morning near Manhattan, as he completed his final preparations to detonate a vehicle bomb targeting U.S. military personnel [...]
Booker is alleged to have spent months discussing multiple plans before deciding on a plan that involved the execution of a suicide bombing mission.
The complaint alleges Booker told another person “that detonating a suicide bomb is his number one aspiration because he couldn’t be captured, all evidence would be destroyed, and he would be guaranteed to hit his target.” Booker identified Fort Riley as a good target, “because the post is famous and there are a lot of soldiers stationed there,” the complaint alleges.
It is alleged that since March 2015, Booker plotted to construct an explosive device for an attack on American soil. It is alleged he repeatedly stated that he desired to engage in violent jihad on behalf of ISIL. Over a period of months, he took a series of actions to advance his plot. As alleged in the complaint, Booker assisted in acquiring components for a vehicle bomb, produced a propaganda video, rented a storage locker to store components for the explosive device, identified Fort Riley as the target and talked about his commitment to trigger the device himself and become a martyr.
However, this is not the first time that Booker has been in the news.
In April 2014, Fox News reported that military authorities had issued an alert for Booker stating that he intended to commit an attack on U.S. military personnel:
The FBI is searching for a recent Army recruit believed to be planning a “Fort Hood-inspired jihad against U.S. soldiers,” FoxNews.com has learned.
The alert, whose legitimacy was confirmed by military and law enforcement officials, stated that a man identified as Booker had told friends of his “intention to commit jihad.” Booker, who is also known as Muhammad Abdullah Hassan, was recruited by the U.S. Army in Kansas City, Mo., in February 2014 and was scheduled to report for basic training on April 7. But he was discharged last week, apparently after law enforcement authorities learned of his alleged plan.
Both the FBI and the 902d Military Intelligence Group at Fort Leavenworth are involved in the hunt.
The alert, a copy of which was obtained by FoxNews.com, was sent out by the FBI’s Kansas City Division on Friday and distributed through the U.S. Marine Corps. The portion obtained by FoxNews.com did not include Hassan’s photo or age. It was also sent to the Kansas City Police Department, which could indicate authorities believe he may have remained in the area where he was recruited.
And yet just days later, the same Kansas City FBI office that arrested Booker today was saying then that he presented “no imminent threat”:
The FBI put out an alert on Monday for an apparent homegrown jihadi who had enlisted in the Army in Kansas with possible plans to commit a massacre on a military base.
A spokeswoman for the FBI said later in the day that agents had interviewed the man in question and decided that he didn’t, in fact, represent a threat. “There is no manhunt. There’s never been a manhunt,” said Bridget Patton, of the Kansas City-based FBI field office. “The individual was interviewed, and it is believed there is no imminent threat to the public.”
In light of today’s events, that assessment last year seems either premature or intentionally deceptive. [See update below on active attempts by FBI & military to downplay the threat.]
The Kansas City Star added:
Roughly a year ago in early April 2014, FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said the bureau had questioned Booker in the wake of reports he harbored “jihad sympathies” and determined there was no public danger. She declined to release additional details.
“It is the belief that the public is in no imminent danger,” Patton said at the time.
She also told The Topeka Capital-Journal “there was never a manhunt” for Booker. When asked by the newspaper then if Booker was in custody, Patton said additional information wouldn’t be released.
If the current reporting is accurate, the FBI allowed a man with clearly expressed intentions to commit terrorist acts to roam freely between last April and October, when according to the indictment he encountered an FBI informant. Or alternatively, the FBI lied to the media and the public last year about how imminent a threat Booker really was. What we know now is that John T. Booker was ready to wage jihad against America and decided in recent weeks to act on those intentions.
This is yet another episode in the FBI’s extensive history of failure with respect to what I have termed “known wolf” terror cases. While in this case Booker was targeted by a FBI sting and his bomb was inert, the Boston marathon bombs weren’t inert and led to the deaths of three Americans.
How many more Americans have to die before the FBI is made to get its act together?
UPDATE: If to emphasize the point that the FBI worked HARD last year to publicly dismiss the nature of the threat, note this article “Military downplays threat from Army recruit“:
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – Law enforcement officials say they interviewed a U.S. Army recruit about his Jihad sympathies and the FBI sent out an alert about him.
But officials downplayed a report by Fox News that the FBI in Kansas City had sent out an alert that was entitled, “Fort Hood-inspired threats against U.S. soldiers by Army recruit.” The network said the man was to report to basic training next week.
The report alarmed many area residents. Law enforcement and military officials said the Fox story was a bit of a stretch, but the FBI did confirm interviewing the recruit.
“An individual was contacted by the FBI and was interviewed by the FBI but at no time was it believed that the public was in any imminent threat,” FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said.
Fox News indicated that there was an active manhunt for the man.
“There’s not a manhunt. There has never been a manhunt for an individual,” Patton said.
She went on to say that the FBI follows up on tips from all different kind of sources and often shares that information with other law enforcement agencies and the military.
The FBI and military owe former Fox News reporter Jana Winter an apology.
During the final years of the Bush administration and throughout the Obama administration I’ve been reporting here regularly on the bipartisan call from the U.S. foreign policy elite and their media sycophants to engage “moderate Islamists” in the Middle East. In conservative circles, embracing this view warranted you being deemed among the “smarter hardliners on the Right” by the establishment media.
As I’ve repeatedly noted, whether in Egypt, Libya, Somalia, Gaza, Lebanon, Turkey, or Syria (as well as many others), this policy has had catastrophic and massively fatal consequences.
Now Eli Lake and Josh Rogin at Bloomberg have this scoop:
According to a March 2 cable from the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Deborah Jones — described to us by a U.S. counterterrorism official — the State Department has been considering outreach to other, supposedly more moderate elements of the militia-aligned opposition forces in an effort to balance U.S. influence and cover all political bets.
The cable, according to our source, didn’t go over well with other U.S. government agencies, and as of now U.S. policy remains to deal exclusively with the Tobruk leadership.
Of course, this policy worked out so well in Benghazi in September 2012, when the “moderate Islamist” February 17th Martyrs Brigade was charged with defending our consulate there. Interestingly, the February 17th Martyrs Brigade in Benghazi is now in open alliance with Ansar al-Sharia, the group the Obama administration has fingered for the Benghazi attack.
Just a few weeks ago I reported here the push amongst the “smart set” for the U.S. to engage “moderate Al-Qaeda.”
As I noted:
Understand, this is a continuation of a popular theme amongst the foreign policy “smart set.” See the “moderate Muslim Brotherhood,” which just a month ago declared all-out jihad on the Egyptian government. Or the New York Times, pitching “moderate” elements of the Iranian regime. Or current CIA director “Jihad” John Brennan calling for the U.S. to build up Hezbollah “moderates.” Or hapless academics proclaiming the “mellowing” of Hamas. Or the so-called “vetted moderate” Syrian rebel groups that, as I have reported here, regularly fight alongside ISIS and al-Qaeda and have even defected to those terror groups.
At this rate can the calls for engaging “moderate ISIS” be far behind?